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Last Updated: Monday, 7 November 2005, 12:33 GMT
Parliament 'isn't green enough'
Norman Baker
MPs must be encouraged to use public transport, Mr Baker says
Parliament is setting an "appalling" example on the environment, with consumption of gas, water and electricity increasing, a report warns.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Norman Baker also found a "disturbing lack of action" on recycling.

Water consumption was up by 58% since 1997, electricity by 45% and gas consumption by 34%, he added.

Nick Harvey, chairman of the Commons Commission, which overseas its running, said the report had "useful ideas".

'Small town'

He added: "We are suggesting different new strategies for waste management and reducing electricity and water consumption. We are going in the right direction.

"There's a limit to what we can achieve in an old building with a lot of heritage designation, but we are always looking for new ideas."

In his report, Mr Baker said it would take enough trees to fill London's Green Park twice to offset the 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide produced to power the House of Commons every year.

The total amount of electricity used in the last financial year available (2002-03) was enough to supply more than 5,000 households - equivalent to a town the size of Newhaven, East Sussex, which is in Mr Baker's Lewes constituency.

Since 1997, water usage had risen by enough to fill 28 Olympic-sized swimming pools, run 875,000 baths, take 2,800,000 five-minute showers, or leave the tap on for 13 years.

'Cider - House - fuels'

Catering was another cause of pollution, the report - How Green is your Parliament - says.

Bottled water purchasing had risen 85% since 2001, with one in three beers and ciders originating from overseas.

Fish and chips
Much of the fish eaten was from threatened stocks

Meanwhile, one in three fish species purchased were from threatened fish stocks.

Mr Baker said: "On a whole range of issues, from cutting energy use and water consumption to recycling waste and reducing food miles, our parliament is going the wrong way.

"It is all very well for us as MPs to call on the general public to act and take measures to protect the environment, but how can we expect them to listen if we do not do this ourselves?

"The time has come to back up the many words spoken with real and concerted action so that we can set an example for the rest of the country to follow."

Parliament was highly "energy inefficient", as it was poorly designed and few offices had low-energy appliances.

Mr Baker found efforts to reduce waste were "inadequate", with more recycling bins needed.

His report also cites a "complete lack of effort" by parliamentary authorities to encourage MPs to use public transport rather than cars.

There was "more than six times" the allocation of parking spaces for cars as bicycles.

The report calls for annual targets to reduce waste.


SEE ALSO:
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03 Nov 05 |  UK Politics
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