Memorandum from The Department for Transport,
Local Government and the Regions
1. This Memorandum sets out the Department's
position on the issues raised by the Committee Specialist in his
letter of 27 March 2002 to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of
State for Transport, David Jamieson MP.
2. DTLR plays an important role in the promotion
of energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Department's wide-ranging
responsibilities enable action to be taken in a number of different
areas, including transport, building regulations, housing and
What responsibilities does the department
have for helping the Government achieve its targets for renewable
energy and energy efficiency, and for monitoring progress in these
What scope is there to promote major improvements
in energy efficiency, in terms of both urban design and individual
building standards? What practical steps is the department taking
in these areas in response to the recommendations in the PIU report?
3. Energy efficiency in transport is important
to the Government's sustainable energy objectives. It is also
a key element in its objectives for moving to a low-carbon transport
system, since there are major opportunities for further improving
vehicle fuel efficiency, which will both cut vehicles' energy
use, and cut carbon and other emissions. Achieving these transport
objectives involves action by four key Departments in particularDTLR,
DTI, DEFRA and the Treasury. The four Departments last year jointly
developed and issued a consultation draft of the Government's
"Powering Future Vehicles" strategy for facilitating
the shift to low-carbon vehicles and fuels (available at http://www.roads.DTLR.gov.uk/vehicle/environment/futurepower/index.htm).
The close joint working will continue as the strategy is carried
through, and the Government is setting up a permanent joint Ministerial
Group on Low-carbon Vehicles and Fuels, also involving the Devolved
Administrations, to oversee the implementation, reporting annually
4. Vehicle energy efficiency is already
improving. The EU Voluntary Agreement with car manufacturers is
on course for its objective of 25 per cent improvement in energy
use and CO2 emissions compared to 1995 levels by 2008.
Other agreements cover Japanese and Asian vehicles.
The EU plan to review the Voluntary Agreement
in 2004. The Government will be fully involved.
5. Other technical developments offering
major efficiency improvements include hybrid (internal combustionelectric)
technology. Two hybrid petrol vehicles are on sale in the UK,
one of which has a fuel consumption of 69 miles per gallon on
the standard urban cycle. More advanced hybrids look capable in
due course of giving a 50 per cent or more reduction in fuel use
compared to current conventional internal combustion engine vehicles.
6. The Government has put in place a range
of measures to encourage the take-up of more energy efficient
vehicles. In 2001, it introduced Graduated Vehicle Excise Duty
for new cars, linked to CO2 emissions and therefore
energy efficiency. It has extended this further in the 2002 Budget
with a new £30 lower VED band for cars with a CO2
emission of 120gm/km and below, starting in May 2002. VED will
then range from £60 to £160 a year (plus zero VED for
electric cars). Company Car Tax is also now linked to CO2
emissions. Budget 2002 also introduced 100 per cent Enhanced Capital
Allowances for companies purchasing cars and vans with 120gm/km
and less CO2 emissions.
7. There are also £1,000 grants through
the Transport Action Programme, for motorists purchasing hybrid
8. Government is also supporting the development
of hybrid vehicles through the Foresight Vehicle and New Vehicle
Technology Fundincluding hybrid buses and diesel hybrid
taxi vehicles, which have particular air quality benefits for
congested areas. Looking further ahead, the Government is also
supporting the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which
offer further improvements in fuel efficiency, together with local
environmental benefits of zero tailpipe emissions.
9. Aviation has seen a steady and marked
improvement in fuel efficiency in recent decades. Fuel consumption
per passenger mile is now about 70 per cent lower than it was
40 years ago. Market pressures combined with further technological
and operational developments will continue this trend. However,
as current aviation technology approaches optimality, the rate
of improvement can be expected to diminish. The prospects for
alternative fuels are being investigated but, with the possible
exception of hydrogen, no promising alternatives have so far been
10. The Department is responsible for ensuring
that the energy efficiency provisions in the Building Regulations
for England and Wales continue to make the best contribution they
can towards achieving the Government's carbon dioxide emission
reduction targets. We recognise that that contribution has to
be balanced with Better Regulation policy, the maintenance of
sufficient flexibility for designers, and the avoidance of unacceptable
risks of technical defects such as rain penetration and condensation.
But we have made significant progress in this area over the last
11. A review of The Building Regulations'
energy efficiency provisions was commissioned in February 1998,
three years after the previous significant improvements came into
effect. Consultations on firm proposals and a draft Regulatory
Impact Assessment (RIA) were conducted with the Building Regulations
Advisory Committee, the construction industry and its clients,
building occupiers and energy stakeholders in the summer of 2000.
The proposals included significant improvements in building fabric
standards, new requirements for air conditioned buildings, new
requirements for checking "As-Built" and "As -Installed"
performance, and administrative changes that would apply the requirements
for the first time to replacement windows and refurbishment of
energy consuming services. The draft RIA estimated that the proposals
would yield about 1.3 Mtonnes pa of carbon savings in 2010.
12. As a result of the consultation, revisions
of the energy efficiency provisions of the Building Regulations
and of the Approved Documents, which give ways in which the requirements
of the Regulations may be met, were published in October 2001.
The amendments came into effect on 1 April 2002. The final RIA
estimate of the contribution to the Climate Change Programme from
these amendments was a saving of 1.37 million tonnes pa in 2010.
13. The summer 2000 consultation document
contained a paper reporting the Department's thinking about three
further stages of amendments up to 2008, the sorts of measures
that might be added to those already controlled, and the performance
standards that it might be appropriate to set, depending on further
consultations and regulatory impact analysis. An update of this
paper is to be placed on the Department's website shortly.
14. It is normal practice for the Department
to survey building practice two or three years after amendments
are made as a check on successful implementation. A similar survey
is planned in the financial year 2004-05 to examine how the changes
that came into force on 1 April 2002 are working. The results
will be used to inform the development of proposals for the amendment
that are envisaged for around 2008.
15. PIU Review recommendations include:
34: DTLR should review the costs
and benefits of moving to "near zero space heating"
buildings well in advance of the next review of the energy efficiency
component of Building Regulations (7.25), and
38: DTLR should develop Building
Regulations to deliver a phased transition to low energy commercial
buildings, including consideration of the use of renewable energy
such as photovoltaics (7.37).
16. The Government will be consulting on
the PIU Energy Review in preparation for the publication of a
White Paper later this year. As part of this work the Government
will be considering what practical steps the department should
take to promote improvements in energy efficiency in response
to the recommendations in the PIU report. However, regarding recommendation
34, in response to a Parliamentary Question on what research has
been commissioned and evaluated in this area, the Parliamentary
Under Secretary of State, Dr Alan Whitehead MP, replied:
"My Department has not commissioned
specific research on moving to near-zero space heating buildings.
Work on the next review of Part L [of the Building Regulations]
is in progress and the aim continues to be to see what further
contribution can be made to achieving carbon dioxide emission
targets whilst keeping the Building Regulations proportionate,
cost-effective, reasonably flexible for designers and unlikely
to cause construction defects. Once the proposals have been developed
an evaluation of the benefits and the costs, including the environmental
costs, of further reducing the energy consumption of new and existing
buildings will be carried out, but it is unlikely that the results
will indicate national regulatory requirements should demand near-zero
space heating. However the regulatory requirements do not, and
will not, prevent builders from adopting better performance criteria,
including near-zero space heating if it suits particular circumstances."
(10 April 2002 Official Report, column 77W)
17. The Department is committed to ensuring
that all social housing in England is decent by 2010. This includes
ensuring homes provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort
through effective insulation and efficient heating.
18. The English House Condition Survey (EHCS)
will be used to monitor national progress towards meeting the
decent home target. Social landlords are also required to set
local targets for eliminating non-decent housing and will report
on their progress regularly.
19. The standard is seen as a minimum and
recent guidance issued by the Department encourages social landlords
to maximise the energy efficiency of their stock, over and above
the requirements of the decent home standard, where possible.
The guidance is available at http://www.housing.dtlr.gov.uk/information/dhg/index.htm
20. Latest available EHCS data shows that
in 1996, 47 per cent of the social housing stock was non-decent,
the majority of which failed to provide a reasonable degree of
thermal comfort. Figures for 2001 will be available later this
21. The planning system has a vital part
to play in promoting more sustainable land use patterns and use
of resources. Good design can help promote sustainable development,
and we are committed to design excellence. Urban design is not
just about making places visually attractive, but it is crucial
to how places function, to maintaining and enhancing the vitality
and viability to town centres, to regenerating rundown areas and
to creating safe communities where people feel secure.
22. Against that background, DTLR published
in September 2001 "Better places to live", a good practice
guide which aims to improve the quality of residential design.
The guide includes advice on improving energy efficiency through,
for example, solar orientation of houses. A copy can be found
In what way do current planning processes
impede the development of renewable energy sources? Will the current
review of planning and of PPG 22 contain any specific measures
to help promote renewables more positively? If so, what?
Is the department involved in the development
of regional targets for renewable energy? What view does it take
on how such targets should relate to the role of RDAs, regional
bodies and local authorities? Where should primary responsibility
for achieving such targets be located?
23. The Government's national planning policy
in England on renewable energy is set out in Planning Policy Guidance
note (PPG) 22: Renewable Energy. This gives local planning authorities
guidance on a range of issues that affect the siting of all renewable
energy projects. PPG22 is available at http://www.planning.dtlr.gov.uk/ppg/ppg22/pdf/ppg22.pdf
24. The planning system has an important
role to play in helping to deliver the Government's target of
securing 10 per cent of UK electricity supplies from renewables
by 2010. The then DETR and DTI thus jointly initiated in 2000
a more positive strategic approach to planning for renewable energy
by asking the Government Offices for the Regions in England (GOs)
to oversee the preparation of regional assessments of renewable
energy capacity and the setting of targets. These were intended
to feed into the Regional Sustainable Development Frameworks,
Regional Planning Guidance and Regional Development Agency (RDA)
Strategies. A similar exercise was undertaken by the Devolved
25. The process of preparing the regional
assessments was a highly participative one, involving a range
of key regional stakeholders (including the RDAs). The exercise
is now largely complete and regions have produced reports and
recommendations. DTLR and DTI commissioned an independent overview
of the studies. The report by Oxera Environmental and Arup Economics
was published on 6 February 2002 and can be found at http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/oxerareport.pdf.
It concludes that the national 10 per cent target
is challenging but achievable.
26. DTLR and DTI are anxious to maintain
the interest and momentum created by the regional work to promote
and maintain a positive planning climate at regional and local
levels. The Prime Minister announced in November 2001 that £2.5
million would be made available to support planning facilitation
for renewables. In consultation with DTLR, DTI is leading on allocation
of this money to GOs and DAs to support a range of actions over
the next two years to take forward the outcomes of the regional
assessments and to raise awareness of renewables.
27. A key objective of the facilitation
exercise is to bring about greater public familiarity with, and
acceptance of, prospective renewable energy developments. Changing
public attitudes to renewable energy has an important part to
play in helping to smooth the passage of individual development
proposals. The inclusive approach to preparing the regional assessments
should also help here. It is also essential that developers prepare
the ground by involving local authorities and local communities
in discussions about proposals at the earliest possible stage.
The importance of pre-application discussions by developers is
strongly underlined in the Planning Green Paper published in December
28. The proposals for a fundamental reform
of the planning system set out in the Planning Green Paper are
designed to deliver a faster, fairer, more inclusive system, with
speedier and more predictable decisions. This package of measures
should benefit all forms of development, including renewable energy.
The Government is currently analysing responses to the consultation
exercise with a view to issuing a policy statement on how it proposes
to proceed before the Summer Recess.
29. In the meantime, DTLR is now reviewing
PPG 22, with a view to issuing draft revised guidance for consultation
later in the year. This will underline the key role which planning
has to play to support achievement of renewable energy targets.
Ahead of this wider revision, DTLR has already updated the PPG
22 technical guidance on photovoltaics. This was published on
10 April 2002 and a copy can be found at http://www.planning.dtlr.gov.uk/ppg/ppg22/annex/index.htm
1 May 2002
9 The Committee asked a number of questions to the
Department and these are shown in italics. Back