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Renewable Energy (New Housing)

Acas – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 6th May 2004.

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Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham 11:30 am, 6th May 2004

If she will discuss with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister the amendment of building regulations to encourage the use of renewable energy products in new housing.

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry

The energy White Paper announced a review of building regulations to encourage the take-up of low-carbon and zero-carbon technologies, and on implementing article 5 of the energy performance of buildings directive. Our colleagues in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry established a working party on how low-carbon systems could be addressed in the building regulations, and the results are available. I urge my hon. Friend to submit his views to the impending consultation exercise.

Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham

A considerable amount of new-build housing is being constructed in my constituency, which is an opportunity to develop the manufacturing industry in renewable energy in the United Kingdom. Sharp Manufacturing has located its manufacturing operation for photovoltaic cells in Wrexham, and we must develop that important market. Will my hon. Friend assure me that he will assist manufacturing industry in that positive development by putting real pressure on the ODPM and, indeed, the Welsh Assembly Government, to take the matter forward?

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry

I am delighted that the Government have committed £25 million in grants to support major photovoltaic demonstration projects, which involve installing solar photovoltaic panels in all types of building, and I hope that photovoltaic panels are used as widely as possible. My hon. Friend has contacted the ODPM, and the Deputy Prime Minister knows that my hon. Friend strongly supports the Sharp factory in Wrexham and wants to ensure that it takes a world lead in photovoltaic technology, from which we want British manufacturers to benefit.

Photo of Kelvin Hopkins Kelvin Hopkins Labour, Luton North

Although I welcome what the Government have done on renewable energy, is my hon. Friend concerned about the long-term security of energy supplies in general? Is it not now time for the Government to put the kind of resources into renewables that were previously put into nuclear energy to ensure that we have safe and secure energy for the future?

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry

We take the need to invest in renewables seriously, which is why we have made a multi-million pound investment to showcase some of the diverse renewable structures and mechanisms that are available. It is important that we make up for lost time, and my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy, E-Commerce and Postal Services shares the commitment of my hon. Friend Mr. Hopkins to renewables, which he champions.

Photo of Desmond Turner Desmond Turner Labour, Brighton, Kemptown

I am sure that my hon. Friend agrees that departmental co-operation is essential in delivering energy policy. Will he therefore open discussions with the Treasury on fiscal measures to promote energy conservation and renewable energy, such as reducing VAT on insulation materials and restructuring carbon tax, which is ripe for improvement?

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry

The Treasury has considered those matters, on which my hon. Friend speaks with knowledge and concern. I note Government Members' widespread interest in the matter, but no Conservative or Liberal Democrat Member rose to speak.