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Energy efficiency 'slow' in Scotland

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Scotland’s public sector has done too little to cut energy use, the Accounts Commission for Scotland has said.

This was partly because the Scottish Government dragged its feet on producing guidance, but it found the whole sector was yet to reduce emissions “at sufficient pace to set a good example or influence others”.

More than 70% of public buildings were in the lowest three of seven bands used to rate energy performance, and just 4% made the top two levels, the report said.

In the three years to March 2009, public bodies’ energy use increased by 1% overall but spending on electricity, gas and oil rose by 21% as prices increased.

The Scottish Government “has been slow in providing guidance to the public sector on improving energy efficiency”, doing so only in October, two years after it said it would develop and action plan, the commission noted.

Accounts Commission chair John Baillie said: “There is no doubt that Scotland’s councils are working hard to improve their energy efficiency and treat the issue with the importance it deserves.”

He said it was encouraging that more than 90% of councils had energy efficiency strategies in place. 

“However, councils account for more than half of the public sector’s energy use, and have an important role in driving and increasing the pace of change,” he added.

Ten bodies were responsible for consuming half of all the £322m worth of energy used by collectively by councils, NHS boards and central government bodies in 2008-09.

This included: Glasgow City Council (8%); Fife Council, City of Edinburgh Council, South Lanarkshire Council (4% each); and Aberdeenshire Council and Aberdeen City Council (3% each).

But the Scottish Government estimated that central procurement of energy in future will save the country’s public sector up to £15m a year.

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