Monthly Archives: October 2011

The number of Excess Winter Deaths

October 2011: Excerpts from the Hills Fuel Poverty Report on the number of Excess Winter Deaths (EWD) arising as a result of fuel poverty.
[page 3]
Living in cold homes has a series of effects on illness and mental health. But the most serious is its contribution to Britain’s unusually high rates of ‘excess winter deaths’. There are many contributors to this problem, but even if only a tenth of them are due directly to fuel poverty, that means that 2,700 people in England and Wales are dying each year as a result – more than the number killed in traffic accidents.
[page 9]
Most dramatically, the UK has a higher rate of ‘excess winter deaths’ than other countries with colder climates. While the number in England and Wales has fallen from around 40,000 per year in the 1970s to around 27,000 per year in the last decade, this is comparable to more than ten times the number of transport-related deaths in 2009.
[page 71]
Compared to other western European countries, the UK has a high rate of excess winter mortality. From 1988-1997, on average 18 per cent of the UK’s winter deaths were excess, compared to the 10-12 per cent observed in typically colder countries such as Finland, Sweden and Norway
[page 73]
…EWDs appear to be related more to the number of very cold days people are exposed to, rather than the average temperature throughout the winter period. The Eurowinter Group compared two regions with similar average winter temperatures – London and a group of cities in Northern Italy – and observed that from 1988-1992  London experienced over 115 days below 18ºC more than Northern Italy. London also experienced four times as many EWDs on days where the temperature dropped below 18ºC over the same time period. This indicates that despite having similar average winter temperatures, London had a higher number of cold days, and more EWDs for each of those cold days experienced.

Posted in News, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Hills Fuel Poverty Review

October 2011: Professor John Hill’s interim  report ‘Fuel Poverty: The Problem and its measurement’ was published last week and is an independent review, commissioned by the Government, “to take a fresh look at the fuel poverty target and definition”.
The document presents a very thoughtful and comprehensive approach to the issue of fuel poverty and sets out  at the very beginning that the evidence taken for the review shows that fuel poverty is a “distinct – and serious – problem.”

The report looks at the problems associated with the current definition (listed on pages 13 and 14) which defines a household as being in fuel poverty if it would need to spend more than 10 per cent of its income to achieve an ‘adequate’ level of warmth through the year and on other energy costs. As an example, a key issue includes the fact that the 10 per cent figure “is derived from an original calculation that in 1988 the median household spent 5 per cent of its net income on fuel, and that twice this ration might be taken as ‘unreasonable'”

As a result of these shortcomings, the report goes on to consider six other potential ways of measuring fuel poverty. The first of these is key to London which is to look at the costs of energy to a household ‘after housing costs’ are taken into consideration rather than on ‘full income’,  as is currently the case with the present definition. Taking this route, the report states that the “higher housing costs in London mean that this region accounts for a higher proportion of households identified under this indicator.” [page 123]. (see here for further details on this issue).

Though each of the six new approaches have advantages, there are also problems associated with them. Hence, the final indicator opted for by the Hills Review team (as set out in Chapter 7 of the report) is a combination of two of the six approaches called the ‘Low Income – High Costs’ indicator and – importantly for  London – it uses an after houses cost measure of income.

The result of using such a definition results in the number of fuel poor households in England falling from around 4 million under the current definition, to 2.7m. Much of the press coverage around the report highlighted how such a result was politically convenient to the Government, however, the new indicator highlights that there remains both a significant and stable number of fuel poor households in England which has not been reduced, despite the wide number of energy efficiency programmes in operation over the past decade (CERT, CESP, Warm Front, Decent Homes etc), and that the target set out in the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, to eradicate fuel poverty as far as reasonably practicable, is far from being achieved. Additionally, Prof Hill highlights that much more needs to be done by Government tackle the  ‘scandalous’ level of Excess Winter Deaths (EWD) of around 2,700 each year as a result of fuel poverty, as set out in the report.

The interim report has been released for consultation with a final report to be presented to DECC around January which will then be published more widely shortly after this. This final report will also provide potential policy proposals from the Hill team.

An additional issue, not touched on in the report, is the introduction by Government of the Affordable Rent Model as a new mechanism to fund the building of new social housing. The result of such a policy will increase rents to social tenants – especially in London – when signing new contracts with their provider (as highlighted earlier this year  in the London Assembly’s report ‘The Affordable Rent Model and its implications for London’) which in turn will have implications on the number of fuel poor in London as a result of the new indicator taking into account housing costs.

No regional breakdown of this revised number of fuel poor is provided in the interim report – to find out if this shift to increasing the number of fuel poor in London actually happens under the newly defined indicator –  but hopefully will be in the final study…

Posted in Library, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Gasification scheme proposed in Bexley

October 2011: A site in Bexley, the borough which is home to a the new  Belvedere incinerator, is also being examined for a new waste to energy gasification power plant.  The scheme, to be developed by waste company Cyclamax, is proposing to build the facility at Burts Wharf Resource Park, off Crabtree Manorway North. Further information in the following article. Further information on the Belvedere scheme here.

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

More challenging times for renewables in London?

21 October 2011: The Government’s proposals for future Renewable Obligation (RO) banding levels for different renewable electricity levels have been published today for consultation. The bands set the level of subsidy provided through granting Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) –  awarded per MWh (megawatt-hour) of electricity generated –  and range from 0.5 ROCs to 2 ROCs per MWh depending on the technology. The ROCs programme runs in tandem to the Feed in Tariffs (FIT) mechanism but is applicable to larger renewable technologies, generally above 5MW capacity.

The consultation moves to providing longer term guidance on the levels of support available to renewable generators whilst also reducing the levels of ROCs support awarded to many technologies and also introducing an element of regression as in the FIT regime (ie a percentage reduction to the levels of support year on year).

Progress on developing larger renewable energy projects in London has been incredibly slow, with only a few notable schemes based around the use of sewage gas at water treatment plant, the capture of  landfill gas, and single larger-scale wind project.

DECC’s proposals will do little to help and potentially much to hinder the situation for London. Key renewable technologies being supported for London such as advanced gasification and pyrolysis are to have their levels of support reduced (see Table 2 of the consultation paper for the full list of specific proposals). These are already high risk projects and hence this will do little to get these nascent technologies off the ground. Ditto for urban-based anaerobic digestion plant which are also having their levels of support reduced.

Similarly reducing support to energy from waste CHP without clarifying the level of Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) tariff that might also be available will do little to inspire confidence in operators considering converting their plant to CHP mode and investing in new district heating infrastructure.  Cities are already severely limited in their ability to contribute to the UK’s ambitious renewable energy targets: waste does however provide a key opportunity but project costs are typically much higher due to land value amongst many other factors.

More needs to be done to support the growth of renewables in London and other cities to exploit opportunities to deliver low carbon heat and power to their communities.  Government should perhaps consider introducing a ‘ROC uplift’ for urban based schemes to help bring these more challenging city renewable schemes forward – that is – an additional 0.5 to 1.0 ROCs for those schemes developed in cities, with a priority given to those that deliver decentralised heat networks as part of their scheme.

Posted in Library, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Major new study – Is localism delivering for climate change?

21 October 2011: Excellent new study from environmental think-tank Green Alliance based on a survey of local authorities, looking at work currently underway on climate change.

The report states “The survey revealed a three-way split between local authorities:.

  • 37 per cent are deprioritising climate change or state that it was never a priority. Starkly worded submissions such as, “the sustainability function within my local authority has been deleted and the climate change function has been discontinued” illustrate the scale of the loss in certain places.
  • 35 per cent remain firm in their commitment to climate change and believe that action could even increase in the context of localism.
  • 28 per cent are narrowing their ambitions to focus on reducing emissions from their estate and ceasing work on wider environmental issues.

Overall, the results suggest that climate changework has narrowed, is very weak or absent in 65 per cent of local authorities.”

Posted in Library, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Energy and Climate Questions to the Mayor

October 2011: This month the Mayor answered London Assembly questions in relation to: a Decent Homes successor standard; the level of interest in the London Energy Efficiency Fund; GLA buildings Energy reduction targets;  Green Deal finance and Green Deal lobbyingFuel Poverty; the Mayor’s support to the Warm Homes AmendmentFunding of waste to energy projects and additional detail on waste to energy schemes and three questions on AD: Anaerobic Digesters (1)Anaerobic Digesters (2) and Anaerobic Digesters (3)

Previous questions to the Mayor can be found here.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Giant Belvedere incinerator enters operational phase

19 October 2011: EDIE news article on the new waste to energy plant in Bexley: “One of Europe’s biggest energy recovery plants, the Belvedere incinerator, is about undergo detailed assessment and performance trials before it officially opens in 2013.” Read full article on link above. Further information on the scheme can be read in a briefing note prepared following a visit to the site by local councillors.

Posted in News, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A New Declaration for Councils on Climate Change

October 2011: The Local Government (LG) Group has recently consulted with councils on establishing a revised version of the ‘Nottingham Declaration on  Climate Change’. The original declaration was set out in 2000, with local authority signatories pledging action to reduce carbon emissions.  As part of the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Local Government Group and DECC,  it has been agreed that a new Nottingham Declaration Board, New Declaration document and accompanying Action Plan will be established to enable councils to reduce carbon emissions at the local level. There were over 300 signatories to the original declaration across the country including most London councils.

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Mayor overturns Merton refusal to allow development of new AD scheme

October 2011: Following Merton Council’s planning application refusal , the Mayor has today approved waste management firm Sita’s plans for an anaerobic digestion and material recycling facility in Mitcham.  Sita can now build an anaerobic digestion plant handling 40,000t of waste per year, down from the original scheme of 100,000t of waste. It will deliver between 1.1 and 1.7 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the site and export around 8 GWh (gigawatt hours) of electricity per year – equivalent to powering around 2,000 homes –  exporting  around 6.2 GWh of power to the grid per year.
The detailed planning report on the Sita application can be accessed via the Merton’s Planning Application’s Committee meeting of 8 September 2011.  The original energy statement for the development, an updated energy statement responding to queries raised by the GLA, and a district heating study for the immediate area around the anaerobic digestion plan in Merton are all available to download from the Merton’s planning website here [word search for ‘energy’ to quickly locate all three documents].
Some additional useful information is provided in articles at the Wimbledon Guardian and at

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Guide to Funding Low Carbon Projects for Local Authorities

18 October 2o11: New Energy Saving Trust (EST) guide outlining different sources of funding to support the development of low carbon activities, specifically energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofit measures for council-owned buildings and for the wider housing stock of all tenures, and for district energy/combined heat and power schemes.

Posted in Library, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Councils reduce levels of street lighting…

17 October 2011: Daily Telegraph article suggesting that “almost three quarters of councils have already reduced street lighting in their area, or are considering doing so.” Read the full article here.
Further information on street lighting initiatives underway in London can be viewed here.

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Local authorities big society and adaptation to climate change

October 2011: Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) report undertaken to:

  • Develop a self-help toolkit to support community involvement in, and ownership of, local adaptation
  • Devise business models for how local authorities can work with local communities to deliver adaptation.
Posted in Library | Tagged | Leave a comment