Thursday, April 02, 2009

Home Insulation Review

The Council's Sustainable Development Select Committee, which I've chaired for the past two years (and will hopefully be chairing for the next year, unless I get ousted) is about to start an in-depth review on home insulation in the borough. (Regular readers may be noticing a recurring theme here.)

The review aims to answer the following two main questions:
• What are the benefits of and barriers to improving the insulation of existing homes in Lewisham?
• What further actions are needed to achieve improvements to home insulation in Lewisham?

In answering the above questions, the committee will examine the following:
• gaps in the Council’s knowledge of the insulation needs of homes in Lewisham, and how these gaps could be filled;
• home insulation schemes currently operating in the borough;
• good practice examples from outside of the borough, and what lessons can be applied to future schemes in Lewisham;
• proposals from central Government, the GLA and the LGA to improve home insulation, and the implications of these for Lewisham;
• the extent to which insulation measures are taken into account in the terms of transfer of council-owned housing stock; and
• the extent to which Building Regulation duties around home insulation are enforced on properties still to be built, or on conversions/extensions to existing properties.

It is proposed that the review would take place over three sessions:
• Session 1: to examine home insulation schemes currently operating in the borough, and the barriers to improving insulation further (including the data currently available to the Council).
• Session 2: to examine good practice examples from other local authorities. outside of the borough, proposals from central Government, GLA and LGA, and the lessons to be
learned in Lewisham.
• Session 3: to examine the latest policy developments on a national and regional level.

The first evidence-gathering session is next Thursday (9th April) and papers for the meeting can be found here. Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe the meeting (and potentially make contributions, if you notify the committee in advance). Written submissions are also welcome: e-mail them to me.

At drinks after last night's Council AGM, a certain member of the leading group was extolling the virtues of a free insulation scheme, having heard Lord Chris Smith, chair of the Environment Agency, talk about it. I politely pointed out that we had proposed this in our budget amendment and he had voted against it. Sigh. We will get there.

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