EAC 240203a

Environmental Audit Committee

24 February 2003


The Energy White Paper - Empowering Change?

In July 2002, the Environmental Audit Committee published a report entitled "A Sustainable Energy Strategy?   Renewables and the PIU review."   The Government delayed responding to our recommendations until the publication today of its Energy White Paper.   Commenting on the White Paper, the Committee's Chairman said today:

"In our report, we saw the Government's primary task as being to translate the implications of the PIU Report into a set of specific policy commitments and an energy action plan.  We welcome the apparent emphasis in the White Paper on putting environmental objectives at the heart of its energy strategy, but have yet to be convinced that the measures it contains are adequate to address the scale of the challenge facing us."

The Environmental Audit Committee will take evidence from the Minister of State for Energy and Construction, Brian Wilson MP, on 2 April.  It will:

a) review key proposals in the White Paper in the light of the Environmental Audit Committee's recommendations in its July 2002 report and the Government's response (see note 1);

b) consider whether the White Paper represents an adequate response to the recommendations made by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation Unit (see note 2);

c) review the progress made against key recommendations of the Environmental Audit Committee's 1999 report on Energy Efficiency (see note 3); and

d) identify the implications of the White Paper in terms the specific actions now required of each relevant Government department.

The Committee would welcome memoranda from interested individuals and organisations relating to the above issues.  Written evidence should be sent to the Clerk of the Committee, Mrs Jessica Mulley, by  Friday 21st March 2003 either by post or emailed to eacom@parliament.uk.  We would be grateful if electronic copies could be provided where possible.  A brief guidance note on the preparation and submission of evidence is available on the Committee's web pages.

Notes for Editors

1. The Fifth Report of the Environmental Audit Committee, A Sustainable Energy Strategy?  Renewables and the PIU Review,  HC582, Session 2001-02, was published on 22 July 2002.  The Government's response to that report will be published by the Committee imminently. Details of all the Committee's inquiries, together with its Reports and other publications, are available on the internet at: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environmental_audit_committee.cfm

2. The Twenty-Second Report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP), Energy - The Changing Climate, was published in June 2000.  It is available on the internet at: http://www.rcep.org.uk/reports2.html    in June 2001 the Prime Minister asked the Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation Unit (now the Strategy Unit) to review energy policy in order to inform the Government's response to the RCEP report.  Its report, The Energy Review, was published in February 2002 and is available at: http://www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/innovation/2002/energy/report/index.htm

3. The Seventh Report of the Environmental Audit Committee, Energy Efficiency, HC 159, 1998-99, was published in July 1999.   The Government's response consisted of two memoranda, and was published with the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Environmental Audit Committee on 13 June 2000.  See Energy Efficiency:  Government Response and Follow-up, HC 571-I, 1999-2000.  It is available at: http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmenvaud/571/0061301.htm