The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) publishes today a major analysis of the ‘state of play’ with local, decentralised energy projects around the UK and Ireland, and it finds considerable evidence that Councils are developing many innovative low carbon energy, heat and transport projects.
This is the third annual NFLA report considering how Councils are trying to develop local renewable energy projects and its gives great detail as to some of the best practice that is taking place across a wide range of Councils. (1) (2)
The report starts with the context of the real imperative in local government to play an important role in mitigating the worst effects of climate change, noting that radical action is required across the board to avoid many harmful problems such as flooding and environmental damage. It notes analysis from the C40 Cities Group that shows cities must undertake an unprecedented increase in the pace and scale of climate action, doing 125% more between 2016 and 2020 than they did in the previous decade for example. The report also welcomes the work of the UK100 group of local government leaders seeking zero-carbon cities by 2050, and it calls for an equivalent group in Ireland.
The report provides advice to Councils on how to continue to fund new energy projects, particularly solar, despite the UK Government drastically cutting subsidies to support such schemes. It recommends Councils read the Solar Trade Association’s report ‘Leading Lights’ and consult with them on the way forward. (3) It also advocates Councils contact Salix Finance Ltd, who are funded by governments and can provide loans to develop energy efficiency programme.
The report provides 50 best practice examples where local authorities are leading the way in the following areas:
- Developing solar and other renewable energy technologies as a core part of the Local Authority Action Plans – over 100 Councils have already done this, with excellent examples including Bristol’s ‘City Leap’, Greater London’s 2050 Environment Plan, Tipperary’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan and the work of the Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group.
- Delivering new low carbon homes and public buildings – Councils like Bristol, Sheffield, Milton Keynes and Cambridge have implemented tough sustainable energy policies to ensure new developments include the likes of district heating, energy efficiency and onsite renewables.
- Developing new revenue streams for services – Councils like West Sussex, Perth and Kinross, Cardiff, Highland and Leicestershire are developing schemes like solar farms, hydroelectric power, solar thermal energy and solar business parks.
- Decarbonising and modernising Local Authority estates – Councils like Portsmouth, West Sussex, Hounslow, Chelmsford, Calderdale, Scottish Borders, Nottingham and Glasgow have all found innovative ways to fund particularly solar energy when updating some of their building stock.
- Building ‘smart’ energy neighbourhoods – Councils like Manchester, Nottingham, Cambridgeshire, Western Isles, Swindon, North Ayrshire, Gateshead and the Isles of Scilly are cooperating on a number of cutting-edge schemes that use smart energy platforms to improve energy generation and efficiency.
- Supporting Community Energy schemes – a number of Councils are partnering with community energy cooperatives to support local energy schemes. The report outlines examples in Swindon, Bristol and London as well as the 124 Sustainable Energy Communities network in Ireland.
- The development of District Heating systems – Councils like Leeds, Glasgow, Bristol, Bridgend, West Dunbartonshire and Manchester are building extensive district heating networks.
- Renewable Transport projects – the report highlights a 10:10 / Imperial College report which suggests many trains could be powered by solar energy. The report also highlights exciting projects in Nottingham, Fife, London, Orkney Islands and Birmingham who are developing various forms of renewable transport.
NFLA conclude be agreeing with the Solar Trade Association that: “Leadership on solar in the UK today comes from local councils.” NFLA argue that increasingly this can apply to other forms of renewable energy, as well as low carbon heat and transport.
The top 10 local authorities have invested more than £80 million in solar projects alone and, despite huge cuts to Council budgets, are finding innovative ways to support low carbon projects.
NFLA Vice-Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“This fantastic report shows in clear detail how the NFLA strongly supports the development of local low carbon energy projects. It also provides clear evidence of the important, if not critical, role Local Authorities can play in the promotion of low carbon energy and in decarbonising the economies of the UK and Ireland. With the stark challenge of dealing with climate change becoming ever more pressing, and at a time of real financial stress in local government, this report shows that Councils are not just seeking to tackle these critical factors, but are providing responsible local leadership in cooperation with other key players. I commend it to Councils and encourage them to keep working hard in these areas. I also call on Government in Westminster, Leinster House, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont to support this work and provide financial assistance to help Councils to deliver this decentralised energy revolution.”
NFLA All Ireland Forum Co-Chair, Councillor Mark Dearey, added:
“I am delighted to see this well researched NFLA report and the sheer variety of ways Councils are moving forward to develop low carbon and decarbonised energy projects. I am pleased there are a number of Irish examples in the report, but there needs to be many more. I call on the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to give Councils the powers and resource to undertake such exciting and important work. Ireland has to scale up its low carbon work, and this is an obvious way to do it.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) NFLA Policy Briefing 175 on decentralised energy is attached with this briefing.
(2) Previous briefings on this matter can be found on the NFLA website –
(3) Leading Lights: How local authorities are making solar and energy storage work today, Solar Trade Association, April 2018 https://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/blogs/leading_lights_the_uk_solar_revolution_looks_to_local_regional_leaders