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City halls showing willing on energy issues

File:Newcastle City Hall.jpg

For those worried about climate change and/or rising energy costs and living in a city, never fear – your local council are on it.

Research by Newcastle University found that a neat 100 per cent of the urban local authorities in the study had plans in place to boost energy efficiency. Things are also looking good for renewable energy, with well over 90 per cent having plans in place to increase output.

But when it comes to grand plans, it’s unlikely that any two would be the same – and this has proven to be true when talking about council climate change and energy efficiency policies. Emission reduction targets ranged from 10 to 80 per cent.

We’ve been involved in plenty of successful local energy efficiency schemes ourselves – we know there’s a will out there, and plenty of action. And uSwitch only recently highlighted a couple of new examples in Doncaster and Glasgow of local authorities working with partners to co-ordinate thousands of insulation installations in homes in their respective areas.

In and around Newcastle, the home of the research mentioned above, there has been major recent news too. Using Green Deal and ECO funds, thousands of homes across eight local authority areas will receive packages of measures through the Warm Up North scheme.

All the same, few would argue that there isn’t a lot of work to be done in local areas, and inconsistencies to be wiped out. There have, for example, been calls at European level for more help to be given in support of local authorities in rural areas to tackle emissions and fuel poverty. Councils are also being urged to take a more pro-active approach in tackling energy efficiency issues in the private rented sector.

Then there’s the issue of keeping business local, in order to instigate deeper community benefits when energy schemes do begin. A North East solar manufacturer has already got a word in on this matter ahead of Warm Up North taking off. What is certainly pivotal is for local authorities and their chosen partners treat energy efficiency less as an SAS-style ‘in and out’ mission, and more as part of a long-term engagement on the subject of energy with the communities they serve.

For local authorities just starting out or well on their way to major carbon cuts in their area, we’ve got a number of free resources to help: guides on getting funding support and reducing emissions from social housing, plus the staple of all our local housing efforts, the Housing Energy Efficiency Database, or HEED.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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