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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 17 May 2007
The heat is on over carbon emissions

• IT'S not often we can take heart from war breaking out, and yet here we are in Camden with different groups vying to be the greenest! (Eco War Declared, May 10).
Camden Friends of the Earth supports Councillor Alexis Rowell’s intentions to push Camden into the forefront of green councils. We support what is called de-centralised energy generation. This includes the combined heat and power systems for housing estates that Cllr Rowell mentions.
What we believe is more important, however, is a move away from dependency on other people to supply energy, and a positive move towards each home producing its own energy.
We recognise that there are barriers to changing our energy use habits. Cost is one: solar water heating, solar cells and rooftop wind turbines can be expensive.
But one of the biggest barriers is the planning system. There remains a tension between the policies that protect London’s best architecture, and the more important and urgent need to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
When we think of the tension between conservation and tackling climate change it is often incumbent on groups like ours to frame the issues non-politically. In this case: do your readers want old, inefficient, but nice looking houses with unadorned, uninsulated roofs greedily using energy, while householders swelter in another summer scorcher, and find that crops have failed again raising prices for staple foods like potato (and coffee for most Londoners), that there is a drought order in place for the fifth year running, and water is being tankered in to London?
Or, do we allow householders to sensitively adapt the look of their houses, even in conservation areas, to fight against this future?
You quote Cllr Rowell’s plans to supply an eco-audit for each of Camden’s homes. This service is already available – the council has been funding it for years.
If you call 800 512 012 the North London Energy Efficiency Advice Centre can guide you through the easiest and most cost effective options.
Co-ordinator, Camden Friends of the Earth

LAST week you reported the launch of the council’s new ‘Greenprint’, championed by Cllr Alexis Rowell. We welcome the green auditing service for every household, new off-grid heat and power projects, and the overhaul of the outdated boilers systems in council housing.
However, they are very wrong to dismiss Ben Pulsford’s plans to install a new solar panel on his listed home.
It is incorrect to state that solar panels are “a thing of the past”. Solar technology is progressing rapidly around the world. Household-scale energy generation is not as efficient as community heating choices proposed by Cllr Rowell but it is available now. So for a householder looking to come off-grid it is their obvious choice.
The current way we receive energy from the old central grid is incredibly wasteful. Three units of energy must be generated for each one we receive. That’s because it is lost as heat in production (60 per cent), and then we lose another 12 per cent in transmission to our homes. We pay for that inefficiency.
The more energy and heat that we produce locally in Camden, the more money we will save.
More importantly, local energy production will have a positive impact on the environment, will help ensure energy security, and will take back control of energy production so that we can be more directly responsible. Call it a democracy project.
We should see planning proposals like Mr Pulsford’s as an opportunity to showcase the way forward.
Decentralised Energy Advocate, Camden Greenpeace

RE last week’s preview of recommendations that will be presented to the Council’s Executive on May 23 on reducing carbon emissions, it is clear that council officers have added a great deal of substance to the report. For example, in demonstrating the link between power generation and Camden’s carbon footprint.

However, not all of the recommendations in the report follow on from the analysis.
Camden has a responsibility to use council tax-payers’ money to best effect and it is unlikely this will be done by show-casing street properties as carbon-free homes or employing an army of green auditors visit, at no charge, every home and small business in the borough.
By all means, we should be willing to showcase eco-friendly buildings within the borough, but Camden should look to the global refurbishment of our estates rather than pursue the least cost-effective remedy of retrofitting green technology to standalone properties.
It is difficult to justify Camden providing green auditors when green entrepreneurs are already operating in this field.
If the aim is to promote a green economy then we shouldn’t undermine the companies trying hard to make a success of it.
Executive Member for Schools
Frognal & Fitzjohn's Ward (Conservative)

I DID not tell your reporter that “solar panels are a thing of the past” (Eco war declared, May 10) – rather they are a technology of the future in the sense that they are currently extremely expensive for the amount of energy they produce, but in due course they will get cheaper and more efficient. However, in an urban environment like Camden, while they will have some role to play, it will not be the largest.
To dramatically reduce carbon emissions in Camden, we need to do three things:
1. Produce energy locally using highly efficient Combined Heat, Power and Cooling boiler systems (not incinerators!). The best place to do this would be on our housing estates which could then act as energy hubs and sell electricity and supply heat to the surrounding area.
2. Make our homes more energy efficient using cavity wall insulation, triple glazing, loft insulation and modern condensing boilers.
3. Encourage our businesses and institutions, who produce a whopping 58 per cent of Camden’s carbon emissions, to change their ways. The first Sustainability Task Force on Energy and Energy Efficiency, which is published this week, makes a range of recommendations to address these issues. That’s what our remit is – to come up with ways to make Camden more environmentally friendly. Now it’s up to the Executive to decide whether the Council can afford to act on our recommendations. I hope they do, but it’s not up to me.
Chair, Camden Sustainability Task Force

IT'S good to hear that Councillor Alexis Rowell has come up with a series of proposals to make the borough more environmentally friendly.
However, he hasn’t got much to boast about in the council’s record so far. While parts of Hampstead and Gospel Oak have had their doorstep recycling collections doubled to two a week, tenants on all the Council’s estates, as well as residents of blocks of flats, have had collections stopped.
The timid Waste Strategy for 2007-2010 sets minimal targets: increasing residential recycling by a mere five per cent and recycling only 10 per cent of commercial waste by 2010. Little additional money is being put into this – and skimping now will in the long run cost us all dear considering the landfill tax and costs of disposing of our waste.
St Albans Road, NW5

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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