Domestic Carbon Emissions

Rural Affairs and the Environment – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 7th June 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Ian McKee Ian McKee Scottish National Party 2:15 pm, 7th June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it intends to introduce measures to reduce the carbon footprint of domestic households. (S3O-156)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

People in Scotland rate climate change, energy and recycling as their top three environmental priorities. A growing number of households recycle paper, glass, plastic or cans and many take action to reduce their energy use. The Scottish Government offers information to households in Scotland at a national level and provides funding for practical support and advice through organisations such as the Energy Saving Trust. Our aim is for households to adopt ever more sustainable ways of living and to reduce their carbon footprint.

We will build on and develop existing work with both national and local delivery programmes in partnership with local authorities, the wider public sector and non-governmental organisations. Our aim will be to reduce waste, improve energy and resource efficiency, and reduce emissions from transport and housing. Those actions will support every domestic household and every individual in reducing their carbon footprint.

Photo of Ian McKee Ian McKee Scottish National Party

May I draw the minister's attention to the experience of an acquaintance of mine, who has attempted to purchase a domestic wind turbine and eventually gain planning permission? He has had 22 telephone calls and numerous letters, but one and a half years later he is no nearer success.

What can the minister do to speed up the implementation of Government policy so that it becomes much easier for even those less determined than my friend to install wind turbines, solar panels and other carbon-neutral ways of generating power?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

Dr McKee makes an important point. Indeed, the Government made a manifesto commitment to develop much simpler and more accessible planning regulations on the matter. I am pleased to say that we are now actively considering changes to planning controls so that more microgeneration equipment can be installed in existing buildings without the need to obtain planning permission. Research has been undertaken on the scope for doing so, and public consultation will be undertaken this year on the need to change existing legislative provisions.

In the meantime, we are certain that development plan policies should encourage and support, rather than obstruct, microgeneration proposals in existing buildings that satisfactorily address the broad criteria that apply, including appropriate environmental and amenity safeguards and the requirements of building regulations.

Photo of Nanette Milne Nanette Milne Conservative

In the spirit of the new politics, which seems to be the catchphrase of the week, will the minister consider establishing an eco-bonus scheme to help Scottish households, communities and small businesses to install modern energy-saving and energy-creating technology, such as hydroelectric, wind turbines, solar water and space heating, heat pumps and wood-fuel heating, as the Scottish Conservatives proposed in our recent manifesto?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I am always happy to endorse the consensus approach and new politics—I have lived with them for a long time. In that spirit, I will be delighted to look constructively at a Tory proposal. We are setting up mechanisms so to do, and we will certainly consider from throughout the chamber all positive ideas that can make a difference and ensure that every individual in every household reduces their carbon footprint.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

I welcome the minister's answer to the previous questions. I look forward to seeing the detail of any proposals that he introduces.

To go back to the original question, will the Scottish Executive commit to continuing support for work on footprinting so that individuals might themselves be able to reduce their household emissions in their daily lives? I particularly commend the work that has been done by WWF and the Energy Saving Trust, which have developed practical ways to calculate people's carbon footprints. Does the minister agree that one of the best ways of raising awareness of our carbon footprints would be through a Scottish Executive-approved process so that there is one way to examine the issue? Will he consider the potential of incorporating that into all our schools' curriculums? That would be one of the best ways of disseminating information and changing household behaviour.

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I am more than delighted that the spirit of the new politics is sweeping like a wave across the chamber and has reached Ms Boyack. I am delighted to welcome that contribution. We will look favourably on those ideas.

Sarah Boyack raises two extremely important points, the first of which is the work that WWF has done and the simple and comprehensive calculations that it can help individuals to do. We want to encourage that. Even more, however, we want to encourage the role of individuals, starting at the earliest age, so that in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, when there is urgency in changing and encouraging change, we can engage every individual in the process. Just as I am warm and supportive to Nanette Milne, I am warm and supportive to Sarah Boyack.