The UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) publishes today its latest detailed analysis of how Councils across the British and Irish Isles are putting into place ambitious policies to tackle the climate emergency, including achieving zero-carbon considerably earlier than their own governments.
The NFLA have developed a detailed suite of reports in the past few years to show that local government can play an important, if not pivotal role, in promoting decentralised solutions that deliver low carbon energy, heating and transport across each country.
This latest report follows the profusion of climate emergency declarations passed by over 280 Councils across the UK and Ireland up to March 2020. As Councils now start to consolidate their declaration with detailed strategies, funding and carbon budgets this NFLA report seeks to provide up-to-date policy advice and a detailed annexe of best practice examples.
The report (1) outlines the 10 core actions Councils should put in place when developing their low carbon strategies, whilst also outlining some of the reciprocal action that is required from central government. That includes new powers and funds across the board, as well as understanding that Councils need to try and come together to put forward their low carbon requirements from their own government. NFLA welcome the APSE Energy Climate Commission as one of the ways to do this, and NFLA’s own report will be shared with each governments and disseminate across Councils.
The report also looks at some new ideas in tackling the climate emergency at the local level, such as from the Local Government Association and the environmental charity Ashden for the campaigning group Friends of the Earth. The report concludes that it is important local government in the Irish and British Isles work more closely together to understand the best practice out there, and come forward with solutions to their own government. Local authorities also need both additional resource and powers if they are going to move forward in this area, but they also need to have a full policy framework underpinning low carbon action, and specified carbon budgets to provide sensible and realisable targets.
NFLA sees the development of local low carbon renewable solutions as an important part of the critical coalition of projects that needs to be put in place to tackle the climate crisis. It will shortly be publishing a parallel report on the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the nuclear sector and the climate crisis, noting that renewable solutions are moving forward at the expense of fossil fuels and nuclear power. This report will also look at the positive role decentralised energy solutions can be within a ‘green stimulus’ to keep economies moving forward and tackle the longer-lasting climate crisis.
Amongst the 42 most recent best practice examples included in this report include:
- Energise Barnsley – a council-owned social enterprise – have been working on a ‘ground breaking’ energy storage and solar project in the town. The project highlights the potential for home batteries to drive grid decarbonisation, save residents money and deliver a boost in renewable power use.
- Belfast City Council’s draft resilience strategy proposes ways the city can transition to an inclusive, low-carbon, climate resilient economy in a generation. Belfast is a member of a global network of cities working to reduce vulnerabilities and build up capacity to adapt to shocks and stresses.
- The low carbon work of Bristol City Council, which has recorded a 71% reduction in carbon emissions from its direct activities against a 2005 baseline to have the lowest carbon footprint of any UK city.
- Cardiff City and County Council is constructing a 9MW solar farm on its landfill site. More than half of the output from the site will be used by Welsh Water, to power its nearby waste water works, with the balance sold to the National Grid.
- The City of London Corporation has put out a notice of procurement for up to 55GWh of renewable energy per year. It is seeking this through an offsite Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with renewable energy project owners and operators. The projects are expected to have a value of £30,375,000.
- Construction has started on Cornwall’s first smart grid-connected wind turbine, which will power the equivalent of around 1,100 homes and help cut carbon emissions.
- The city-region in Coventry will soon play host to a new clean transport lab, which will spearhead research into electric vehicles, biomethane and hydrogen for transport, after a £30m investment was jointly made by German engineering giant FEV and Coventry University.
- Edinburgh City Council (ECC) has pledged to ensure that the city operates on a “net-zero” carbon basis by 2030 – 15 years before Scotland’s national net-zero target for 2045.
- Glasgow, Gateshead and Bridgend are all moving forward with ground-breaking Geothermal Heat Projects seeking to use untapped mine water to be used as geothermal energy. Glasgow has also unveiled its first detailed roadmap setting out how to reach its Net Zero targets.
- Leeds City Council has held a ‘Big Climate Conversation’ receiving nearly 8000 responses to the consultation, which involved an online questionnaire and over 80 events.
- Manchester City Council has approved a new action plan that would commit to halving the council’s carbon footprint by 2025, as a step towards the city’s wider ambition to reach net-zero emissions by 2038.
- Newport City and County Council is working with community organisation, Egni Co-op, to help the authority become carbon-neutral by 2030. Following a detailed feasibility study a plan has been drawn up to install 6,000 solar panels across 21 sites at no cost to the council – up to 2MW.
- Nottingham City Council met its 2020 target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26% four years early; more than 40% of all journeys in Nottingham are now made on public transport and solar panels have been installed on more than 4,000 council houses. Energy consumption of council buildings has been cut by 39% and it is on track to generate 20% of its energy from low-carbon sources by 2020. The UK Government has concluded that the city’s air pollution has fallen so much that a ‘Clean Air Zone’ is not needed.
- Swindon produces enough electricity to power 97% of the borough’s houses from renewable sources. There are currently 43 solar farms operating in Swindon.
- Tipperary Energy Agency (TEA) has been successfully supporting Tipperary to reduce its energy demand for over 20 years. The agency has identified a €500 million sustainable energy opportunity for the county and continues to work to accelerate the transition of Tipperary to a low carbon future.
Chair of the UK and Ireland NFLA Steering Committee, Councillor David Blackburn, said:
“This report once again shows the quality of NFLA research and confirms our consistently and strongly held view that local government can play a really important role in delivering zero carbon schemes that positively tackle the climate emergency. By working together, they can put forward a cogent response to central government of their positive role and unlock further powers and essential resource to assist Councils and all work together at creating a zero carbon British and Irish Isles. In the 42 examples shown in this report dynamic work is being made by Councils to deliver on ambitious climate emergency targets and show central government the way in getting to zero carbon much quicker than 2050.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes to Editors:
(1) NFLA Policy Briefing 199 on how Councils are tackling the climate emergency is attached with this media release, and will be on the NFLA website homepage https://www.nuclearpolicy.info