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Departments: Energy

Volume 458: debated on Monday 12 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what strategy he has put in place for (a) the use of renewable energy and (b) meeting energy targets in his Department's buildings; and if he will make a statement. (125402)

Government Departments in Northern Ireland have been purchasing electricity from renewable sources since 2001. This approach is being continued in the general requirement for Departments to source at least 10 per cent. of their electricity requirements from renewable sources by March 2008.

To encourage the installation of renewable energy technologies by Government Departments, some £6.5 million has been made available in 2006-07 and 2007-08 under the Environment and Renewable Energy Fund which was launched a year ago.

Beyond this period, this work will be carried forward under the Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Strategy which requires the Government estate to be carbon neutral by 2015. From 31 March 2007 all Departments and district councils will be under a statutory duty to act in the way best calculated to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in Northern Ireland.

With regard to targets, Departments (and other public bodies) have been made aware of the objectives contained in the Government White Paper published in 2003 entitled “Our Energy Future—Creating a Low Carbon Economy”, and repeated in the 2006 Climate Change Programme, “Tomorrow's Climate, Today's Challenge”. All Departments are required to monitor their energy use and provide annual returns of energy consumption and cost in respect of all buildings which they occupy.