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Energy Efficiency

Part of Bills Presented – in the House of Commons at 6:09 pm on 30th June 2010.

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Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth 6:09 pm, 30th June 2010

Thank you very much for letting me join this important debate, Mr Deputy Speaker. I wish to support what Thomas Docherty said about the fact that a lot of today's debate has focused on energy generation, whereas in a debate on energy efficiency we should be focusing on energy consumed in the home, because that is a very large contributor to energy consumption in the UK and to our use of carbon fuels.

I also wish to associate myself with some of the comments made by my hon. Friend Mr Ellwood. I grew up in Cornwall, so I can remember the catastrophe of the Torrey Canyon and the oil spills that we saw off the coast of Cornwall, which in their day were as catastrophic as those we are seeing in the gulf of Mexico. That is, I think, a spur to us to reduce our dependence on oil and move swiftly to find more sustainable sources of energy.

I believe that the green deal will offer significant positive benefits to people living in my constituency. Fuel poverty in Cornwall is among the highest in the country. That in part relates to the profile of our population: we have many people living in poverty, with average incomes some 25% lower than the national average, and the fastest-growing population of 80-year-olds. We are also a very rural area, with more than 63% of the population of households living in rural areas-that figure is only 19% for the rest of the country. As a result, people do not have access to mains gas, which is, of course, the cheapest form of energy. Many homes, especially in villages-as many as 80% of the homes in villages-have to depend on Calor gas or on fuel oil, which are the most expensive ways of heating a home and tip a lot of people into fuel poverty.

There are also a lot of old properties, bungalows and properties built before the war with solid walls, which are difficult and expensive to insulate, as well as a large number of detached properties compared with the rest of England. As hon. Members will know, flats are usually the most energy-efficient properties and we have low numbers of those in Cornwall.

I believe that the green deal will enable many people in my constituency to switch from expensive and carbon-intensive forms of energy to more low-carbon and cheaper alternatives, especially ground heat. Ground heat pumps are manufactured in my constituency and, using the CERT programme and working with social housing providers around the country, they have lifted many people out of fuel poverty. However, like some of my hon. Friends, I am slightly concerned. Although the initial amount of money available through the green deal-about £6,000-is a good start, I would appreciate it if, over time, Ministers considered increasing the amount of money that could be made available for the green deal to take into consideration the considerable costs of insulating solid wall properties and putting in ground source heat pumps.

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