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Green RIBA chief savages 'shortsighted' energy targets

RIBA vice-president for sustainable development Professor Peter Smith has slammed the government's latest energy review - for not being ambitious enough.

The review sets a target of raising energy efficiency by 20 per cent by 2010 and a further 20 per cent by 2020. The aim is to achieve this largely through better insulation in homes. The document also calls for 20 per cent of the UK's power to be produced from renewable sources by 2020.

However, Professor Smith rubbished last week's document as 'shortsighted' and 'lacking in ambition'. In a stinging attack, he told the AJ that the targets could easily be met in a shorter period, but that in the UK 'there just isn't the political will.

Even [US President] Bush is making moves to encourage sustainability through tax incentives.

And compared with the rest of Europe, our targets are derisory'.

'The UK is the richest in Europe where renewable resources are concerned. There are truly robust levels of power available - just look at our tidal opportunities - but this government is just ignoring them, ' said Smith.

He added said he believed the traditional energy lobby had managed to influence the government on its approach to sustainability and that it is 'in hock to the fossil fuel lobby'.

Smith said that government claims that the UK was outperforming the rest of Europe in the setting of such 'aggressive targets' was 'simply outrageous and totally untrue'.

The document also suggests removing planning constraints on renewable power sources - a move that would free the construction of wind turbines. It also leaves open the option of building further nuclear power stations - a suggestion that angered environmental groups. The document also calls for the setting up of a sustainable energy policy unit.

An energy white paper will be produced in October. Professor Smith will launch his book, Sustainability at the cutting edge, this summer.

lThe London Assembly attacked Ken Livingstone last week for delaying his draft energy strategy for London. Samantha Heath, the assembly's environment committee chair, claimed that Livingstone's 'constant procrastination' would reduce the period that the assembly had to complete its scrutiny of the strategy.

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