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From Copenhagen to Chillingham Road

December 16, 2009 11:11 AM

Greg writes:

With the Copenhagen summit going on, and with yesterday's power cut blacking out parts of Jesmond and Heaton, I was interested to read the city council's draft climate change strategy last night. It includes maps of domestic energy consumption in the city and it is interesting to see where the "hotspots" are in Newcastle East.

For domestic electricty, the highest consumption is in Walkerville, the area of Jesmond north and north east of Osborne Road (lots of big older houses), and the block between St Anthonys Road and Scrogg Road in the Monkchester area. Similar properties across the road have a far lower consumption rate - perhaps due to housing improvement work to boost insulation.

The lowest electricity consumption is in the "Dales" area of High Heaton, and in the new housing around Haydon Grange. My guess is that the more modern housing is built to better energy efficiency standards. Domestic gas consumption is notably highest in the student rented areas of West Jesmond, central Jesmond, and the Avenues area of Heaton.

In other areas, consumption varies, but it appears to reinforce the viewpoint that older houses are less energy efficient and newer houses are generally better. However we cannot rely on newer eco-friendly housing to reduce emissions, we need to do more to retrofit existing housing for the future. In this context, continued investment in projects like Newcastle Warm Zone is of crucial importance.

The Chancellor's announcement of a "trade-in" scheme for less efficient older boilers is welcome in this context (unless you have already managed to claim a new boiler on expenses, as one lucky Newcastle East resident has), but the Lib Dems believe far more needs to be done by national government to promote large-scale investment in energy efficiency to tackle fuel poverty and reduce emissions.

As world leaders debate in Copenhagen, I look forward to further progress on Newcastle's climate change strategy to justify our status as the UK's most sustainable city.