Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Energy Advisory Associates

  We have the impression that the DETR replied to the Committee in November 1999 and, in doing so, largely rejected all the Committee's conclusions and recommendations (except, now, the reduced VAT rate on insulation materials). The DETR's action was extremely disappointing, because I and many colleagues thought that the EAC's August 1999 report was excellent.

  I personally sent 20 pages of detailed comments and suggestions to DETR in January 2000 on how to spend the £150 million revenue from the climate change levy (CCL) which has been allocated to energy efficiency or renewables. We, and I know many other experts in the UK, criticised the emphasis on enhanced capital allowances (ECA's). However, as the Chancellor announced very detailed plans for ECAs in the Budget, it appears that the DETR and Treasury had already made up their collective minds before DETR received the hundreds or thousands of submissions. Some of these were very, very detailed.

  In other words, we faced virtually a fait accompli.

  One is not pleased to find that the DETR is clearly not listening to outside experts who have far more experience on the application of energy efficiency measures to buildings in the UK and elsewhere than many DETR staff. In particular, we regard the DETR's "consultation" on the CCL as perilously close to a total waste of outsiders' valuable professional time. The 1998 consultation on Part L of the Building Regulations by DETR's contractors, Oscar Faber, reached a clear consensus on the basic energy efficiency levels to aim for. The Committee may wish to ask DETR why a review which was apparently proceeding to plan in 1998 has not yet led to a set of recommendations for public consultation. The original plan, so far as we all gathered in 1998, seemed to be to publish such proposals by December 1999. As this firm was involved in preparing two sub-contract reports for Oscar Faber in summer 1999, I must emphasise that concern over this delay is no way intended as a criticism of Oscar Faber, who at the time seemed to be doing an extremely thorough job. I must also stress that the reports are covered by DETR confidentiality clauses; the only matter which is currently in the public domain is the timescale.

March 2000

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