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NHS secures exemption from ‘onerous’ EU emissions law

The NHS has won an exemption from new EU rules on energy efficiency, which the NHS Confederation had argued would have left the health service with an annual bill of £70m.

The organisation’s European Office has welcomed the European Parliament’s decision to amend the proposals so that the NHS will not come under the requirements for public bodies to renovate 3% of their buildings’ floor space to high energy efficiency levels every year.

The NHS European Office said this would have diverted “essential financial resources” away from patient care at a critical time.

NHS organisations will still be “encouraged” to make energy savings where possible when running their estates and buying goods and services, but will not be subject to “onerous arbitrary targets”.

Elisabetta Zanon, director of the NHS Confederation's European Office, said: “The NHS is fully committed to improving its energy efficiency and has made great progress in recent years to become more sustainable and eco-friendly.

“We appreciate the need to modernise our buildings, and to use energy more efficiently.

“However, the reality is that the NHS has a vast and often ageing estate. In its original form the proposal was too rigid and top heavy. It would have been especially damaging for acute services, with significant costs incurred to meet high-energy efficient specifications. It was a blunt tool that would have created a real headache for organisations already trying to find significant savings.

“We are delighted that, following our work with decision-makers in Brussels, a more flexible approach has been achieved to allow NHS trusts to reduce their energy consumption”.

The new Energy Efficiency Directive will shortly become EU law, repealing the existing Cogeneration Directive (2004/8/EC), and the Energy Services Directive (2006/32/EC). Member states will then have 18 months to introduce it into national law.


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