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Government's carbon ambition outlined

Construction minister Mark Prisk wants UK contractors to export their skills in low-carbon construction.

In an exclusive interview to coincide with Construction News’ inaugural Carbon 21 list of the people with the greatest influence over low-carbon construction, Mr Prisk said low-carbon construction was at the heart of the coalition government’s plans.

Chief construction adviser Paul Morrell’s Low Carbon Construction report will be incorporated into the government’s growth review.

Mr Prisk said: “I’m really encouraged by the way the industry has led the way on the Innovation and Growth Team report, working with Paul Morrell and our officials.

“What I am keen to do now is build on the recognised leadership we have in the UK to support low-carbon growth here and abroad.” 

Mr Prisk said he saw signs for “cautious optimism” in 2011 with growth in the private housing and commercial property sectors.

He said:  “There is a long way to go but there is a recognition that we have expertise that is valued abroad and I want to promote that and I want to help the industry deliver on more contracts.”

The growth review will be published by the time of the March 2011 budget and Mr Prisk said the government would consult with industry between now and then. It will release its response to Mr Morrell’s report in the spring.

Before taking office, Mr Prisk had criticised the industry for its discordant voice. But he praised the way it has come together to tackle the need for low carbon buildings, and urged it build on that progress.

“The fact the IGT came together in the way it did suggests the industry is more in harmony than it was and I’m encouraged by that,” he said.

“Of course there is still work to be done.  We have to address the existing housing stock and that is going to require the industry to change some practices to cope with the retrofitting need.”

Reducing waste and increasing efficiency are also priorities for the business and enterprise minister. He said PAS 91 – the government’s new standardised pre-qualification questionnaire – was only the first step in its drive to improve procurement practices.

“I want to help make the government a more efficient client and that is why we have introduced PAS 91, which we are going to be rolling out across Whitehall. I want to cut down on the duplication and waste both in government and outside.

“I am working with Francis Maude in the Cabinet Office and we are looking at other elements that slow down procurement or needlessly make it expensive. I have been encouraged by the comments we have had from industry.”

Mr Prisk said his job was to remove barriers to growth in the economy. He said the construction industry had a vital role to play and that collaboration with the government would be crucial to achieving that.