Councils sign up to cut energy costs

As part of the new scheme, local authorities will be sharing ideas and advice on the best ways to save money on their gas and electricity use and ensure there are preparations in place for keeping to a minimum disruption caused by extreme weather like snow, floods and heat waves.

The Climate Local Commitment has the support of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) , Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Environment Agency.

It will build on the success of the Nottingham Declaration and aims to provide a more flexible way for councils to share ideas, actions and achievements which reflect local priorities, risks and opportunities.

So far 18 councils have signalled their intent to sign up to Climate Local, with many more expected over the coming months.

Declarations determined by local councils are likely to include commitments to generate money from renewable energy and create new jobs and investment in green industries in their area, tackle fuel poverty, protect the local environment and improve public transport to encourage more people to seek an alterative to travelling by car.

LGA Chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said:

"Councils are already protecting people from the disruption caused by the changing climate and taking opportunities to reduce tax payer bills through energy efficiency measures. We know firsthand the local risks and priorities, whether those are about energy security and green jobs, improving the energy efficiency and resilience of local homes and businesses or  planning extra care for vulnerable people during extreme weather events.

"Local authorities have built up a wealth of experience and expertise at combating the challenges brought by a changing climate – and these differ throughout the country. This is why it is key that local authorities are given maximum flexibility to develop their own ideas and strategies. Centrally-imposed targets often miss the point and, at a time when councils have had their budgets cut by 28 per cent, risk being unaffordable.

"The aim of Climate Local will be to drive and champion council-led action on climate change in a way which will ensure local authorities can get the best results and value for money with the resources they have available."

Secretary of State for the Environment Caroline Spelman MP said:

"I strongly support the new Climate Local initiative, which will provide local councils with an opportunity to highlight the great work they have been doing and their future plans to tackle the effects of climate change.

"The UK’s first Climate Change Risk Assessment, which my Department published in January, sets out the scale of the challenges we face from heatwaves, increased flooding and pressure on water resources. It is vital that local authorities, through Climate Local, are well prepared for the future."

Liz Parkes, the Environment Agency’s Head of Climate Change, said:

"The climate is changing and the UK is in danger of suffering more extreme weather events. Councils have a big role to play in helping communities prepare to face this uncertain future and the Climate Local initiative will help them take action.

"The Environment Agency has a long tradition of working closely with local authorities and we’ll continue to do so through our new Climate Ready support service, set up with Government to help organisations prepare for a changing climate."

Have your say on this story using the comment section below