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LA21: WORKING TOGETHER TO CREATE SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES

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The time has come to move up a gear on Local Agenda 21 and all local authorities must produce strategies now to ens...
The time has come to move up a gear on Local Agenda 21 and all local authorities must produce strategies now to ensure sustainable communities into the next millennium, deputy prime minister John

Prescott stressed today.

Launching joint central and local government guidance on Local Agenda 21 - Sustainable Communities for the 21st century, Mr Prescott said that we must all work together to make lasting improvements in the quality of life of local people and their children - working to meet environmental and economic and social goals.

Speaking at the Local Government Association Conference Local Agenda 21: The Corporate Challenge' today, the deputy PM said:

'I am delighted to be here to launch this central and local government guidance on Local Agenda 21. It's designed to show all local authorities why and how to produce a Local Agenda 21 strategy - how to deliver sustainable local communities. We aren't just concerned with cleaning up litter and dog dirt, recycling waste and cutting air pollution. We are in the business of making lasting improvements in the quality of life of local people and their children - working to meet environmental and economic and social goals.

'The document we are launching is based on the best UK local practice that has been developing since the Rio Earth Summit. Last June's UN Special Session and the Kyoto Climate Change conference in December marked a change of pace and change of approach. We are moving from voluntary action to commitment.

'We are leading in our Presidency of Europe. This afternoon parliament will be debating our plans for regional development agencies - and we should not forget that LA21 involves regional as well as local action. We will soon be publishing our integrated transport White Paper, reflecting our commitment to work in partnership with you. Our commitment to integrating policies is already demonstrated by the merging of the environment and transport departments. We are shifting the planning system to embody sustainable development more fully and I shall have more to discuss with you on this soon.

'The work of promoting sustainable development rightly started with voluntary action. But the time has now come to move up a gear. Every authority must now get involved. Today I want to encourage you all to do so.'

- A full copy of Mr Prescott's speech is available on request from LGCnet. Tel 0171 833 7324/5.

NOTES

Agenda 21

- Overall action plan for the next century endorsed at the Earth Summit The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the 'Earth Summit'), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992.

- Contains 40 chapters covering, in some 500 pages, practically every area of human activity.

- Sets out framework of objectives and activities for environmental protection and sustainable development necessary to see us into the 21st Century.

- Sets a framework for action by governments and international organisations, voluntary groups, businesses, local authorities

and individuals.

Local Agenda 21 in the UK

- Chapter 28 of Agenda 21 encouraged local authorities to adopt a Local Agenda 21 for their community by 1996. The UK local authority associations worked together to try to meet the 1996 target through their Local Agenda 21 Initiative. The DOE helped fund a programme of local 'round tables' bringing together these groups.

The type of work involved includes:

- energy efficiency measures for example in local authority buildings, street lighting, transport fleets and local authority owned housing;

- work to minimise use of resources and maximise the use of the least environmentally damaging products in purchasing and specifying contracts;

- traffic calming, bus lane and other bus priority measures, pedestrianisation, cycle lanes and other urban traffic management schemes;

- waste minimisation and recycling initiatives and energy from waste schemes; measures to involve local communities in all of this work.

- Managed by a Steering Committee drawn from the Local Government Association and representatives of other sectors with whom key

partnerships are essential. It is serviced by the Local Government Management Board (LGMB). The chairman of the Steering Group is Celia Cameron (Leader of Norfolk CC).

- UK local authorities are now being encouraged by the Steering Committee to incorporate action to address urban, social, poverty and regeneration issues into their Local Agenda 21 strategies.

Progress

- the LGMB reported to the session of the UN Special Session on the Environment in June 1997 that (as of November 1996):

- 70% of UK local authorities are committed to Local Agenda 21;

- 70% have established internal working groups on Local Agenda 21 issues;

- 55% of authorities are preparing sustainable development strategy documents;

- 50% have organised training and awareness programmes for elected members;

- 42% are implementing environmental management systems (based on the UK's adaptation of the European Union EMAS scheme for local government);

- 30% of authorities are working with their local communities on development of local sustainability indicators.

- At the UN Special Session, the Prime Minister called on all UK authorities to adopt Local Agenda 21 strategies by the year 2000.

Sustainable Local Communities for the 21st Century' is available free of charge from: The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Publications Despatch Centre, Blackhorse Road, London SE99 6TT Tel: 0181 691 9191 Fax: 0181 694 0099

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