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Call to back low carbon funding with publicity drive

The managing director of Ice Energy believes the budget will boost the UK’s green industries, but only if measures are backed by a major publicity drive to highlight how to access new grant funding.

Andrew Sheldon welcomed indications the Government wanted to create one million ‘green’ jobs through various initiatives and expressed hopes new funding would lead to more community-based ground source heat pump schemes similar to those established by his Oxfordshire-based company and Harrogate Borough Council.

But, this will only be achieved, Mr Sheldon, argues if individuals, local authorities and community groups are helped to understand how to access grants for renewables and low carbon technologies.

He said: “These technologies have significant benefits in reducing the cost of heating – taking the most vulnerable in society out of fuel poverty and create homes that are well heated, comfortable and offer a better quality lifestyle with improvements in health.

“The measures announced should also ensure that businesses such as Ice Energy can see their way through the recession and prosper when the economy recovers.

“Simple technologies, such as heat pumps, are already proven and we are managing and helping to drive that market along. But that market could grow even more rapidly if grants were easier to access and more people knew about these technologies.'

Among the measures announced by the chancellor Alistair Darling for the decentralised renewables sector was £70 million worth of new grant support to cover the period up to the introduction of the new renewable energy tariffs with £45mill for the Low Carbon Buildings Programme and £25m for community heating.

Mr Darling also promised £65mill in loans to public sector organisations for improving energy efficiency and £100m for improving insulation in social housing schemes.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has also raised grant levels for the Warm Front Scheme.
Households connected to the gas grid are now eligible for grants of up to £3,500, an increase of £800, while those in areas off the gas grid can apply for funding of up to £6,000, an increase of £2000.

The scheme is also being expanded to solar thermal heating and air source heat pumps initially through small-scale pilot programmes.