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March 2007

Sustainable housing guide for Scotland
The fully revised and expanded 'Sustainable Housing Design Guide for Scotland", which was funded by Communities Scotland and the Sustainable Development Commission, was launched at the end of January and is available as a free download from... more  back to top

Wales ahead of the zero carbon game
Zero carbon building standards are set to reach Wales five years before the rest of the UK! The Welsh Assembly has dramatically upped the sustainability stakes by setting a zero carbon target for all new buildings by 2011 - five years ahead of the UK government's recently-announced target for zero carbon homes... more
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First FSC certified project completed
The world’s first construction project to be fully certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Project Certification Standards has been delivered by Hollybrook Homes a month earlier than planned and within budget. The 73-home timber-framed housing complex, Westside Apartments in Ilford, is the first project to receive full... more   back to top 

London Climate Change Plan applauded
Free loft and cavity wall insulation will form part of a comprehensive plan to cut London’s carbon emissions. The Mayor’s Climate Change Action Plan - 'Action Today to Protect Tomorrow' - spearheaded by Ken Livingstone, shows that Londoners don't have to reduce their quality of life to tackle climate change, but they do need to change the way they live... more    back to top



Brown must make his last budget green!

The Chancellor must use his final Budget on 21 March to try to salvage his green credentials say environmentalists. The call comes as both Gordon Brown and David Cameron make keynote speeches on the environment, as well as the publication of the draft Climate Change Bill.

Campaigners Friends of the Earth are urging Gordon Brown to put tackling climate change at the heart of next week's Budget by raising taxes on polluting activities and making it cheaper and easier for people to cut their emissions. Despite expressions of concern, the Chancellor has failed to make any significant contribution to reducing UK carbon dioxide emissions.

In the eight years before Labour came to power green taxes (as a percentage of overall taxes) rose from 7.8% to 9.4 %. But by 2005 (the latest year which information is available) Gordon Brown had let this percentage fall to 7.7 %.

The Chancellor abandoned the Fuel Price Escalator (an above inflation increase in fuel tax) and has frequently frozen duty on fuel. In December last year, the Government admitted that the cost of motoring has fallen in real terms by over 8 % since it came to power. Meanwhile the cost of public transport has risen: bus fares by 14 % and rail fares by 5 %.

Meanwhile carbon dioxide emissions have risen under Labour, despite repeated manifesto promises of substantial cuts. The Government's target of a 20 per cent cut in carbon dioxide (based on 1990 levels) by 2010, will not be met. The Climate Change Bill, whilst a welcome step in the right direction, needs to be backed up with financial muscle.

Friends of the Earth's director, Tony Juniper said: “Gordon Brown must use his final Budget to tackle climate change. The Chancellor's Budgets have largely been woeful. He must demonstrate that he has the political courage to lead the UK towards a low carbon economy. And he can start by making it cheaper and easier for people to cut their emissions. This must include cutting road tax for more of the most fuel efficient cars and substantially increasing it for gas-guzzlers, and a package of measures that provides strong financial incentives for householders to save energy and cut emissions. We need action not words.”

“The Chancellor must also give his backing to a strong climate change law, which must include annual cuts in carbon dioxide of at least three per cent.”

Measures the Chancellor could take include:

Substantially increasing road tax for new gas-guzzling vehicles (up to £2,000 for the most polluting vehicles), and cutting road tax to zero for more of the most fuel-efficient models;

Committing £1.4bn to fund Council Tax rebates for homes that fit insulation measures to save energy. Introducing Stamp Duty rebates for homes that are made energy efficient within six months of purchase.

Raising the funding available through the Low carbon Building Programme to at least £1bn a year to help the take-up of renewable micro-generation technologies.

Announcing a strategy for moving the UK towards a low carbon economy. This should include setting out annual carbon budgets for UK economy and policies that deliver this for all sectors

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Suffolk eco homes plan approved
Much needed affordable homes in a historic Suffolk town have been given the go-ahead - and hailed as an “outstanding example” of environmentally-friendly living. The £1.15 million landmark development in Bury St Edmunds' town centre has been designed to meet the highest environmental standards, developers have said... more  back to top

Scottish firm creates affordable zero carbon home
Scottish building company, the Stewart Milne Group have developed a prototype affordable zero carbon green home. The house will go on show at an event hosted by Building Research and Consultancy (BRE) in Watford, Herts in June. The group believe their design can meet the government's new targets for new-build houses without costing more... more   back to top

Onshore wind falling foul of the planners
A staggering two thirds of planning applications for onshore wind farms are being refused. A recent study by BWEA shows that decision makers are not responding to the environmental challenge. Since the publication of the Stern Report in October 2006, BWEA says that 12 of 18 decisions for onshore wind farms have been refused – giving an... more  back to top

Renewables grant spent in 90 minutes
So many homeowners want renewable energy that the March grant allocation was taken up in an hour and a half. Grant funding for householders to install microgeneration systems under the Government's Low Carbon Buildings Programme ran out just 90 minutes after applications opened on the 1st March... more   
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26 April 2007
Building a Low Carbon World - London

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14 May 2007
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