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Sustainable Energy Act 2003

Section 4: Energy efficiency of residential accommodation: energy conservation authorities

9.The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 (c.10) (“HECA”) requires energy conservation authorities (local authorities with housing responsibility) to report on residential energy efficiency improvements and applies to all residential accommodation within an authority's boundaries. Under that Act authorities must prepare a strategy for improving energy efficiency within residential accommodation and then produce annual progress reports. Authorities set targets for themselves in their strategies. The average target is a 30% improvement (from the 1996 baseline) over 12 years. But there is no legal requirement on authorities to implement measures to achieve their targets. As announced in the 22 July 2003 ODPM circular to Local Authorities, the Government will shortly be bringing forward an Order under section 6 of the Local Government Act 2000 to remove the requirements in statute for production of HECA and other plans. Removal applies to all excellent authorities. As regards the main section 6 Order, if the process is successfully completed, the Order will come into force before the end of 2003/4.

10.This section:

  • provides a power for the Secretary of State (in respect of England) and the National Assembly for Wales (in respect of Wales) to issue (and subsequently modify) a direction to one or more energy conservation authorities to make improvements in the energy efficiency of residential accommodation; and

  • requires energy conservation authorities to which directions are given to take such measures as they consider to be practicable, cost effective and likely to result in achieving the improvement specified in such a direction;

11.Subsection (2) provides for the meaning of “energy efficiency” of residential accommodation to be defined for the purposes of this clause by the Secretary of State. There is at present no suitable definition of energy efficiency in any other legislation and this provision also enables the definition to be amended as necessary in future, for example in response to changes in policy or technology.

12.Representatives of local government, named in subsections (3) and (4) as the Local Government Association in England and the Welsh Local Government Association, must be consulted before a direction is issued. Subsections (12) and (13) provide for these bodies to be changed to reflect any changes in local authority representation that may occur in future.

13.Subsection (5)(b) removes the duty for energy conservation authorities to comply with the HECA after receiving a direction. This is because the provisions contained within this Act go beyond those contained within the HECA. This Act requires authorities issued with a direction to take action.

14.The effect of subsection (6) is to require an energy conservation authority, when carrying out its duties under this section, to give preference to measures that it considers would contribute to achieving the fuel poverty objectives contained in the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 (c.31).

15.Subsections (10) and (11) provide a power for the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales to issue guidance to energy conservation authorities in relation to their duties under this section and require energy conservation authorities to have regard to such guidance.

16.Section 9 of the Act provides for this clause to be brought into effect (separately in England and Wales) on a day specified by order. This is to enable the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales each to develop, assess and cost proposals, to consult energy conservation authority representatives and other stakeholders and to put the necessary funding in place before issuing directions under this section.

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