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Scottish Parliament Speech: Energy Efficiency (November 2008)

See this speech in context on They Work For You.

I congratulate Sarah Boyack on her motion. She has a fine environmental reputation and is the daughter of Jimmy Boyack, a good architect as well as a stalwart home ruler, who built his own Bauhaus-style villa near Cramond. As I remember, it incorporated part of one of Princes Street's greatest buildings, which was destroyed by corporate vandals in the 1960s. That gives me my text, because 50 per cent of our carbon emissions involve heating - domestic and commercial.

Adapting to a renewables regime will probably involve, for a time, increasing our manufacturing emissions, because manufacturing is necessarily heat intensive. One way in which we can save on industrial emissions is, of course, to import the equipment and fittings that we need and to pay only the transport costs, which seems a brilliant wheeze, except that it does not give us much chance of becoming world leaders in the industry or of creating a lot of jobs.

See this speech in context on They Work For You.

Yes - thank you, Mr Harper. If we are to be world leaders in such technology, we must not only cope with repairing our deindustrialisation - manufacturing, which accounted for 30 per cent of gross domestic product in 1970, when we tackled North Sea oil, has come down to less than half that level, and the impact on engineering training and skills, which are well below European levels, has been significant - but be extra efficient across the board. Insulation would give us an important and manageable training phase while fundamental research is conducted on wind, wave and tidal energy.

We face an extremely sensitive challenge in Glasgow and Edinburgh, in particular. Georgian and Victorian Scotland were built in an age of cheap and plentiful fuel, when no conservation questions were asked, so there are plenty of plate-glass sash windows, chimneys, lofts, stairwells and cupolas through which heat can and does enthusiastically escape. The costs of preventing that are potentially huge. The alternative of cheap double glazing does not do our townscape any favours. The lofty astragalled windows of Edinburgh's new town are one of our civic glories, and one does not improve them by visiting one's local DIY store.

The costs of triple glazing such windows are formidable. Furthermore, there are all sorts of problems with ventilation, condensation, maintenance, safety and so on. Much of the heat loss is through the window housing rather than the glazing, so I suggest that insulation and heat retention should come within the scope of the saltire and horizon prizes that are offered by the Government. Retrofitting can be expensive, but if a mass-produced triple-glazed window that would be fitted behind the existing windows could be developed and installed as part of a programme, we would have made a breakthrough that could - given the numerous historic towns of Europe and America - be an export winner. In addition, we would have trained up a generation of technicians to face greater and more rewarding challenges when renewable regeneration comes on stream.

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