RENEWABLES FUNDING PROGRAMME IN A MESS SAYS MP
17 September 2007
Lynne Jones MP has slammed changes to the Government’s grant funding programme for householders who want to install renewable energy technologies in their homes. She points out that, on current form, the scheme will be badly under-spent. The MP revealed today that, three months after its relaunch, applicants to the once oversubscribed Low Carbon Buildings Programme are abandoning the scheme. Lynne Jones said “At this rate it will take 15 years to spend the money, but the scheme is supposed to finish next summer!”
The programme, which until its restructuring earlier this year was heavily oversubscribed, has suffered a severe fall in the take-up of funding since its relaunch on 29 May, with many applicants dropping out of the process.
In answer to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Dr Jones on 10 July 2007, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks stated that on 21st March 2007 committed spending on the programme was £6,456,091, which had been allocated to 3,988 household projects. The Minister went on to say that the programme had committed a further £624,316 to 629 households. And yet, according to the Department of Business and Regulatory Reform’s own figures given on 4th September , only £355,000 has been committed to a further 113 households in the six months since March 21st. Dr Jones said “The reason for the discrepancy is that the Minister’s parliamentary answer takes no account of the hundreds of householders who have dropped out of the scheme.”
Lynne, who is the MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, recalled that previously demand for grants was so high that the monthly cap on funding (introduced in December 2006 to cope with demand) was being met in the first few hours of the first day of each month. “Now, the level of the grants has been pitched too low”, she said, “and applicants are dropping out once they discover what funding they will get. Unfortunately we seem to have gone from one extreme to the other. This is disastrous for the microgeneration industry; manufacturers and installers are losing anticipated business and the whole system is getting clogged up.” Sources in the industry say that government officials had recommended an upper limit of £5,000 for grants but ministers had decided to set the limit at £2,500.
Dr Jones went on to explain that, with the extra £6m announced in the Budget, there is overall £18.7m of funding available to householders before the Programme finishes in June 2008. With only £5.23m of this so far actually paid out, there needs to be a take-up of £1.2m per month for the next 10 months if the funding is to be spent.
Referring to Malcolm Wicks’ recent defence, following a leaked memo, of the Government’s prospects for meeting the EU’s 20% target, Lynne Jones said, “As always Malcolm puts up a spirited defence but, as he knows, in 2005 the share of UK energy which came from renewable sources was just 1.61%: in Latvia it was 40.03%. Only Belgium, Cyprus and Malta are doing worse than us!  With less wind than the UK, Germany is producing 22 gigawatts of wind power, 10 times the UK’s output.”
“Ministers need to ensure that the Low Carbon Buildings Programme is functioning properly before the market for domestic microgeneration is killed off. This is just one important way to help reduce the UK’s “carbon footprint”. In the long run, we should switch to the system operating in most other European countries of a favourable feed-in tariff for local energy generation as recommended in a recent Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee Report (see http://www.lynnejones.org.uk/lynne-jones-mp-u/index.php?id=efracitizensagenda).
Reducing our CO2 emissions is now as important as was eliminating waste during World War II. The threats from climate change do not seem to the public to be as imminent as the threat posed by Hitler but they are as real. That is why we need nothing less than a coalition across the political spectrum to agree to take the necessary measures (and put in the necessary investment). There should be no attempts at making political capital on this crucial issue.
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For further details please contact Lynne Jones on 0207 219 4190
Notes for Editors:
 According to the rolling figures given on the Low Carbon Buildings Programme website @ http://www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk/lowcbp/statistics/statisticsView.action
as of August 21 the Low Carbon Buildings Programme committed £6,867,148, as compared with £6,589,000 committed on 28 May 2007, the day before the launch of the new scheme.
 Department of Trade and Industry @
 Source: European Commission @ http://ec.europa.eu/energy/res/index_en.htm
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