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Engineers want action and funding to follow Climate Bill

Engineers gave a guarded welcome to the government's Climate Change Bill this week, but warned that there was still a long way to go to achieve the prescribed carbon reduction targets.

Last week Prime Minister Gordon Brown unveiled the key aims of the bill –the first of its kind anywhere in the world – including the possibility of raising the target for cutting carbon emissions from 60% to 80% by 2050.

High-Point Rendell director and ICE vice president Scott Steedman said that a massive amount of construction was needed to meet the carbon targets.

"The targets are not achievable unless the planning system is reformed to allow for the major renewable energy infrastructure, which includes wind turbines and nuclear power," he said.

Steedman added that the Government was right to include nuclear power as part of its mix of low carbon energy solutions.

Parsons Brinckerhoff head of sustainable energy Ian Burden questioned whether there were enough engineers and workers to deliver renewables targets.

"Tens of billions of pounds will be spent to deliver renewable energy sources; carbon capture storage, nuclear power stations and wind farms," said Burdon.

"Do we have the human resources to deliver?"

Some believe the Government could increase supportive legislation. "The targets are essential and achievable but will take incredible political will," said Microgeneration director Andrew Honey.

He said the government could do more to make it easier and more attractive for the public to feed microgeneration technologies into the National Grid.

"In Germany there is legislation that positively encourages renewable energies to be put in place," he said.

"If photovoltaic cells are installed, access to the Grid is guaranteed and excess electricity is bought back for a guaranteed tariff. The Government needs to start by tackling it at grass roots."

Renewable Energy Association chief executive Philip Wolfe said: "A huge gap has opened up between the political rhetoric on climate change and the reality of wholly inadequate policy and financial support."

Away from renewables, the Climate Change Bill's proposals on adaptation measures to events such as flooding were welcomed by the Environment Agency.

"An adaptation programme every five years is a step in the right direction," said Agency climate change manager Chris Hewitt.

"However there are other areas which could be strengthened. We would like to see duties imposed on statutory bodies such as water and power companies to protect their infrastructure from flooding. We would also like the adaptation reports to be subject to independent scrutiny by a panel of experts."

The BILL: Key POINTS

- Targets for net UK carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced by at least 60% by 2050

- Yearly Parliamentary reports on the quantity of UK emissions and progress to be made.

- Periodic Parliamentary reports on the risks from Climate Change and plans for adaptation.

- Proposals for trading schemes and financial incentives to encourage low emission activities, the production of less domestic waste and recycling

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