Call for establishment of UK Sustainable Energy Agency

A UK environmental group has called for the establishment of a Sustainable Energy Agency (SEA) which would deliver a co-ordinated approach to the UK's attempts to meet targets on renewable energy, combined heat and power, energy efficiency and global warming.

A Green Alliance report ‘The case for a Sustainable Energy Agency‘, launched on 23 February 1999 in association with the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group, criticises “incoherence” in Government energy policy and the fragmentation of the institutions responsible for delivering sustainable energy.

“The emphasis of energy policy has to change to integrate climate change and related environmental imperatives into the heart of all government policies,” the report says.

The report says a SEA would allow the integration of targets and objectives, more rapid action and would help to resolve conflicts between differing policies, such as social policy, transport, agriculture, local government and hosing.

The report finds that the current institutional set up is probably not adequate for the growth in sustainable energy required over the next decade in order to meet a range of Governmental targets. “[The current set up] is certainly not adequate to oversee the much more radical changes required in the following decade,” the report claims.

The report suggests two changes:

  the creation of an independent SEA operating “at arms length” from the Government. The SEA would report jointly to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Welsh Office.

  The creation of a Cabinet Office Unit and Cabinet Committee to consider related issues such as renewable energy strategy, future of Standards of Performance (SOPs), policies to promote biomass, planning and wind farms. The Energy Regulator would be given stronger duties and clearer targets for the promotion of sustainable energy.

Stuart Boyle, one of the report’s authors, said: “The Government has set itself ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gases and obtaining energy from more sustainable sources. We need a new institutional framework to help deliver those targets”.

Peter Madden, Green Alliance Director, said: “Promoting sustainable energy also means promoting warm homes, clean air, more efficient businesses and new jobs. We should seize these opportunities.”

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