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Green Parliament on hold

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Plans to power the Houses of Parliament with a 35 metre wind turbine and solar panels have been scaled back, according to reports

None of the proposals included in plans commissioned by the Palace of Westminster in 2006 will be included in the upcoming overhaul of the buildings’ energy systems. Even plans to install double glazing been scrapped.

The high cost, estimated at £20 million, slow payback, lack of wind and sun together with the historic nature of the buildings has contributed to the climb-down. However, parliament will be partially taken ‘off-grid’ with a new biomass power station in the cellar and there are proposals to dig a 120m-deep borehole to reduce bottled water consumption.

Figures reported yesterday in the Guardian reveal the deep-seated problems of cutting carbon emissions of public sector buildings in the UK – together they have a bigger carbon footprint that Kenya.

‘The majority of government departments are still failing to make their new buildings and refurbishments sustainable, and many of those using and operating public buildings have little idea of their energy efficiency or how to improve it’ said a CABE report released in March 2008.

By law, public buildings in England over 1,000m² have to show a display energy certificate as of October this year. The Palace of Westminster currently ranks at the lowest level ‘G’ along with the Bank of England. Number 10 Downing Street is a ‘D’ and the Department for the Environment’s Head office is an ‘F’.

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