PM's green scheme for our schools

LOCAL schools have been given the opportunity to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Under a new program announced by Prime Minister John Howard yesterday, schools can apply for 'green' vouchers to improve energy and water efficiency.

Every school in Australia will be eligible for a voucher of up to $50,000 to help install solar hot water systems and rainwater tanks.

As well as helping to reduce energy and conserve water, Mr Howard said the $336 million funding for green vouchers will provide students and school communities with a first-hand lesson in how to act locally to preserve the environment.

Although pleased with the announcement, principal of Kororo Public School, Will Randal, said he is waiting to read the 'devil in the fine print'.

"Anything that returns to schools positive environmental images and practices has got to be of benefit for not only the children, but the country and the globe as well," he said.

"While on the surface it all appears to be very positive, until we see the fine print, we won't know. There could be a lot of issues such as redirecting plumbing, tank stands, and toilet systems."

Coffs Harbour High School principal, Ken Butcher, said the funding was a positive move.

"Anything to bring the environment to the attention of our children is good," he said.

"If we can continue to educate our children about the environment, our world's got a chance."

But the Federal Government's funding announcement to tackle climate change, has received criticism from the opposition.

Labor's environment spokesperson, Peter Garrett, went on the attack yesterday, chastising the prime minister over his plan for schools to boost their solar energy use.

He said such an initiative was already effectively in place in Australia's mandatory renewable energy targets.

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