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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 18:18 GMT 19:18 UK
Extra money for home energy fund
Solar panels
The scheme helps with the cost of installing solar panels
A renewable energy small grants scheme, which proved so popular it ran out of funds, has been topped up.

Last week it emerged that the Scottish Community Householder Renewables Initiative had run out of money, with six months of the financial year to go.

An extra 250,000 has now been announced to tide the fund over until it gets its 2.2m grant next year.

However, the Scottish Greens branded the scheme a token gesture and called for targets for mini-power systems.

Enterprise Minister Nicol Stephen made the funding announcement during a visit to a solar panel project in Edinburgh.

Nicol Stephen
I want to see this fantastic work continue
Nicol Stephen
Enterprise Minister

The panels provide enough energy to heat the water tanks in a sheltered housing complex in Saughton.

Mr Stephen said: "Since 2002, the initiative has seen around 700 projects across the country benefit from more than 5m funding.

"I want to see this fantastic work continue. The executive is determined to emphasise support for those who want to play their part in reducing the use of fossil fuels.

"That is why I am allocating extra funding to renewables projects this year to allow the organisation to meet the rest of this year's grants demand."

He also said the executive would look closely at adding to the budgets for 2006/07 and 2007/08 to reflect the demand for projects supported by the scheme.

Target call

The 30% grants are designed to help Scotland achieve its 40% renewables target by 2020.

But Green MSP Shiona Baird said there should also be targets for small scale household projects.

She said: "If they set statutory targets, it sends that clear message to industry which will encourage the production of more of these devices.

"So it brings down the cost and it creates jobs."

Climate debate

The Greens have launched a bill in parliament calling for small projects like solar panels to be exempt from planning permission and for them to be compulsory for every new house.

The move came as MSPs debated climate change and the environment minister told parliament that Scottish greenhouse gas emissions dropped by more than 10% between 1990 and 2003.

We must take the opportunity to promote safe nuclear energy here
Alex Johnstone
Conservative MSP

Mr Finnie said the figures would help the executive's on-going review to develop a "more radical" programme to tackle climate change.

"Not only is it important that we have a more radical review, it is also crucial that we actually have it expressed in terms that can actually be measurable," the minister said.

The executive has so far resisted setting a "national level" target for cutting greenhouse gases but has pledged to introduce sector-based targets measuring emissions from specific industry groups.

Committee convener Sarah Boyack said members believed the executive's existing climate change programme "didn't go far enough or fast enough".

Waves
There are high hopes for tidal, wave and wind power

The former transport and environment minister urged the executive to give greater prominence to energy efficiency schemes and to encourage renewable energy schemes beyond just wind and wave power.

Scottish National Party MSP Roseanna Cunningham said urgent local action needed to take place to support global initiatives.

But she said she did get a "sense of urgency" from the minister.

Conservative North East Scotland MSP Alex Johnstone agreed action was required to cut CO2 emissions and insisted nuclear power was the way forward.

He said: "If we are not to see a proliferation of unsafe nuclear technology across the world, we must take the opportunity to promote safe nuclear energy here."

Socialist South of Scotland MSP Rosemary Byrne challenged the executive to "actually do something" to address climate change.


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SEE ALSO:
Scots 'support' climate crackdown
30 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Green biodiesel production starts
04 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Nuclear power 'is off the agenda'
23 Mar 05 |  Scotland
MSPs search for climate answers
26 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Green campaigners go on the march
12 Feb 05 |  Scotland
MSPs hear renewed climate warning
02 Feb 05 |  Scotland


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