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Fed: Homes to get "green loans"

By Cathy Alexander
07 May 2009 5:46 PM

CANBERRA, May 7 AAP - Households will be given low-interest $10,000 loans to green up their homes under a federal government scheme to be detailed on Friday.

Up to 200,000 homes are expected to be eligible for the $300 million loans scheme.

The money must be used for green measures like solar panels, low-emission lighting and water tanks.

Households will get the loan from the bank, then pay it back slowly at a low interest rate, which is subsidised by the government.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett promised the "green loans" scheme in last year's budget and claimed it would be up and running "by early 2009".

The government is running late with the scheme but, in the wake of the decision to delay emissions trading, needed to get some climate measures off the ground in the upcoming budget.

AAP understands the loans scheme has been "revamped".

Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt said he was concerned the original scheme may be watered down to save money.

"Last week, the government had to revamp its emissions trading scheme. Now we may well see a reality-check injected into Mr Garrett's green loans program," Mr Hunt told AAP.

"Is the green loans program about to turn a shade brown?"

He said the scheme always had a question mark over it and it wasn't clear how it would work.

It was just one of a range of the government's environmental programs which had been delayed or not delivered, Mr Hunt said.

He also noted that the original scheme was supposed to include insulation and solar hot water heaters, but this had been supplanted by a separate announcement of bigger rebates for both items.

The "green loans" scheme might have been rewritten, Mr Hunt said.