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Local councils 'given green powers'

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Local councils could be given the power to demand that energy-leaking properties in their area are improved by landlords, it has been announced.

The government hopes that landlords will take part in the “Green Deal” scheme, which gives them the opportunity to pay the cost of improvements through future energy bills rather than up front. The idea is that the extra would be more than offset by the savings made by conserving more energy.

Some landlords resist paying for insulation to homes they let out because they do not directly benefit from the improvements.

But legislation introducing the initiative, due to be published next month, will also include enforcement measures to compel them to do so if necessary.

Ministers have recently attempted to reassure councils they have a role to play in the Green Deal after the Local Government Association expressed concerns they were being sidelined.

Officials said the take-up of the scheme among private landlords would be monitored, with the powers to force them to meet reasonable requests from tenants available from 2015 if they do not.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne hailed the potential for the extra home insulation work generated by the Green Deal scheme to create up to 73,000 new jobs.

Mr Huhne had previously trumpeted the potential for it to create 250,000 jobs but officials said that would depend on every single household in Britain taking part in some form of the scheme.

He has been visiting an academy in Berkshire run by British Gas - which said it had now filled 1,000 of the 3,700 “green collar” jobs it hopes to create by 2012.

“The Green Deal’s about making people feel as warm as toast in their homes. I want Britain to say goodbye forever to leaky lofts and chilly draughts,” Mr Huhne said.

“At a time of increasing gas prices, energy efficiency is a no-brainer. It’s also a massive economic and job opportunity which could help Britain’s economy turn the corner.

“With up to 100,000 green jobs up for grabs over the next five years, and even more in the long term, this is about growing our economy in a way that’s good for jobs, the environment and energy security.”

At present the Green Deal would apply only to England but ministers are keen to extend it to Scotland and Wales and are in talks with devolved administrations to do so.

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