Projects update 28 November 2008

projectsThe school has had a quote for double glazing the top floor corridor. This will not require scaffolding or planning permission, and a lot of heat is lost from the corridors. The quote is for £6,000 – less than expected, and less than the £10,000 that Climate Answers donated for this work. So the work will be done over the Christmas holiday and the extra £4,000 will be used for solar panels for the partner school in Niger.

At the start of November, I wrote to the Department of Transport to ask for money to fit electric vehicle charging points at Whittington hospital, to the Department of Health to ask for money to fit thermostats to the wards, and to the Department of Energy and Climate Change to ask for money for solar thermal panels at the houses where staff live. I have received an encouraging reply from Andrew Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport, saying that there are two sources of funding – the Alternate Fuels Infrastructure Grant Programme and the Plugged-In Places Infrastructure Framework – and telling me the key official to discuss this with. So I will do this next week.

A much less helpful letter from the Customer Services Centre (a classically inappropriate name) of the Department of Health. My letter explained that the hospital gets too hot, which is uncomfortable for the patients and bad for healthcare as germs breed more easily, and that I am working with the hospital staff to try to raise money for thermostats. The reply basically just says: ‘it’s not our responsibility’. It suggests that I contact the hospital staff, giving me the name of the very person I am working with. It then says that the Department of Health now purchases at least half of its electricity from renewables – which is good, but not relevant. And it finishes by saying that, in May, the Department launched an NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy, and that 66% of NHS Trusts responded to the consultation. All well and good, but there is no government response to the consultation yet. No doubt they’re working on it, but meanwhile money is being wasted, patients infected and the climate damaged because hospitals cannot control heat levels.

And no reply yet from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, gave  a speech this week saying that schools must save money on fuel bills. The government does offer interest-free loans for this, but only if the cost of fuel saved over two years is greater than the cost of the work done. The cost of the work at my kids’ would pay back over four or five years, so we don’t qualify. It is reasonable to demand that schools calculate the pay back period before receiving loans or grants, and that the pay back is not too long. However, two years is too short. So, I’ll contact the Department for Children, Schools and Families (another rather silly name) to see if it will be less unreasonable.


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