Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Annex 1

NAO ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES SINCE 1995
ReportYear Synopsis
Vehicle Emissions Testing
ISBN 010 265899-4; HC 402
1999Most vehicles must undergo in-service tests of exhaust emissions as part of their annual roadworthiness test. Our report examined the design of the test regime, the way it is applied in practice, and its impact and cost-effectiveness. We found significant technical limitations with the current test, and that test were often incorrectly applied in practice. The test did not prevent up to 20 per cent of vehicles being driven with illegal emissions, and cost effectiveness is expected to decline further as catalyst-equipped vehicles start to predominate. We recommended that the standard of testing should be improved, that testing should be better targeted on those vehicles most likely to exceed emissions limits, and that the Department keep under review whether the current regime remains cost-effective.
The Home Energy Efficiency Scheme
ISBN 010 290198-8; HC 556
1998The Home Energy Efficiency Scheme provides grants up to the value of £315 per household towards the cost of energy efficiency measures in the homes of the poor, the disabled, and the over 60s. Grants totalling £367m were paid to 2.34m households between 1991 and 1997. We found that the scheme was successful in increasing the take-up of energy efficiency measures and had led to increased warmth and comfort for householders. However, we criticised the agent appointed to administer the scheme for failing to control the fees charged by installers and failing to target its inspection work. We also criticised the Department of the Environment for failing to control the surpluses accumulated by its agent.
Office of Electricity Regulation:
Improving Energy Efficiency Financed by a Charge on Customers
ISBN 010-552326-7; HC 1006
1998The Office of Electricity Regulation (OFFER) introduced a scheme in 1994 under which local electricity companies helped their customers use electricity more efficiently. The scheme was financed by an average £1 per annum levy on customers. We found that nearly half of domestic customers were happy to pay the levy whilst 20 per cent were opposed to it. The scheme was successful in saving around 1.5 per cent of the electricity used by domestic customers and provided a net financial benefit to customers. We identified those projects under the scheme that were cost-effective in saving energy. Our recommendations focused on increasing the benefits of the scheme by greater emphasis on identifying and promoting the most successful projects.
A Case Study of Stores Management in the Ministry of Defence
ISBN 010-552146-9; HC 951
1998This report examined the way in which the Ministry of Defence (MOD) stores hazardous but non-explosive items such as compressed gases, paints and spare radio sets. The MOD stored 18,000 different types of such items, valued at £450 million. We examined the Department's arrangements for health, safety and environmental protection and the scope for reducing storage costs. We found that environmental and health and safety monitoring activities were being carried out, but one major stores depot did not conform with legislation and posed serious risks. We also found scope for significant cost savings from improved stock purchasing and holding practices.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Protecting Environmentally Sensitive Areas
ISBN 010 268498-7; HC 120
1997In 1987 the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) launched the Environmentally Sensitive Areas scheme to encourage farmers to safeguard certain areas of the countryside from the effects of intensive agricultural practices. Within designated areas farmers were invited to farm in an environmentally friendly way in return for an annual payment. We found that the scheme had helped the environment but that improvements were needed. We recommended that the Ministry introduce a more strategic approach to the scheme including directing its resources to those areas most at risk and using better methods to evaluate its success.
Ministry of Defence: Management of Utilities
ISBN 010 264397-0; HC 177
1996This report considered the scope for the Department to make savings in energy costs from both the way they acquired utility services and from greater efficiencies in the consumption of utilities. We found several opportunities to secure further savings from the way utility services were acquired. Savings could also be made through improved energy management. To do this, the NAO recommended stronger utilities management and benchmarking of performance.
Department of Transport: Freight Facilities Grant in England
ISBN 010 284496-8; HC 632
1996This study examined this grant programme supporting the transfer of freight from road to rail. We considered whether grants had secured the anticipated traffic flows on rail, whether there was a consistent approach to valuing environmental benefits of proposed schemes, and whether there was potential for the grants to have a greater impact. The report found that in the majority of cases, schemes carried less traffic than originally projected. We also found that the programme had been consistently underspent, in part because of the criteria used to determine eligibility and to calculate the level of environmental benefits. We also recommended that the Department should continue to review the promotion of these grants.
The Protection of Scottish Fisheries
ISBN 010 261296X; HC 28
1995The Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency enforces fisheries law in Scottish waters and ports. We examined the extent to which the Agency's targets were achieved and how it assessed the effectiveness of its fisheries protection operations and their contribution to the conservation stocks. We found that difficulty in estimating the total level of illegal activity meant that the Agency was unable to access its effectiveness in detecting breaches of European quotas, neither could it measure its direct effect upon conservation. We made recommendations to help improve the co-ordination of the Agency's effort against illegal fishing.
National Rivers Authority: River Pollution from Farms in England
ISBN 010 223595-5; HC 235
1995This report examined the effectiveness of the National Rivers Authority's efforts to reduce and prevent river pollution from farms in England; and the extent to which the Authority had taken action against polluters. The report found that the Authority had generally performed well in responding to farm pollution incidents, although there were differences between regions over which costs should be recovered. Preventative work by the Authority was found to have contributed to the overall improvement in water quality recorded between 1990-92.



 
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