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Council carbon data published


Carbon emissions fell in almost all local authority areas in recent years, according to government figures.

Figures released last week by the Department for Energy and Climate Change showed an overall fall of 14% across all local authority areas between 2005 and 2009.

Total emissions increased in only ten local authority areas, most notably in Highland Council where they were up by 11%.

The council believes this may be due to increased tourist traffic and the widespread use of oil as a domestic fuel.

The biggest fall was seen in Gravesham BC, down 66% since 2005, and is attributed to the closure of a large cement works.

The report found that domestic emissions had fallen in all local authority areas but there were rises in industrial, commercial and road emissions.

King’s Lynn & West Norfolk BC’s total emissions rose by 7%, driven by a 25.3% increase in industrial and commercial emissions.

Deputy leader Brian Long (Con) defended the increase: “King’s Lynn has seen major industrial and commercial growth.

“One of Europe’s largest paper processing plants has just opened in the area, it will increase carbon emissions but it is recycling more newspaper than anywhere else in the country.”

“Kings Lynn is on the up and the council has done a lot to promote that.”

With emissions increases and decreases so closely linked to industrial activity, a spokesman for DECC said the government was not relying on the economic downturn to keep emissions in check.

“When the economy picks up again we want to make sure we don’t see a sudden peak in emissions which is why we have policies in place to help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.

Although industry is the biggest producer of emissions - 43% compared to 30% from the domestic sector and 27% from road transport - the Carbon Trust has been encouraging councils to look at their own emissions.

Richard Rugg, director of programmes at the trust, said local authorities should aim to reduce their own emissions by up to 25% in five years, a figure already achieved by Oxford City Council.

Schools were important places to start as emissions from their buildings could constitute 84% to the total, Mr Rugg said, and the trust is working with Cambridge schools on quick ways to save energy and money. 

“We start with heating and lighting controls, insulation and IT, a big consumer of energy,” said Mr Rugg.


Case study: Sheffield City Council – 20% drop in emissions

The council has increased the numbers of bus lanes, joined up cycle lanes and introduced free parking for low emissions vehicles. 

Bio-methane vehicles form part of the councils’ fleet, fuelled from green matter, supplied by local businesses.

The Care4Air partnership encourages local residents, schools and businesses to ‘do their bit’ to improve air quality and runs an award scheme to recognise excellence.

The council is part of the East End Quality of Life Initiative, which works in some of the most deprived parts of the city, where local volunteers carry out pollution monitoring and free air quality alerts are available to those with respiratory problems.

Andy Nolan, Director of Sustainable Development at Sheffield City Council said: “We are still digesting the data but there has been a bigger push around renewable energy over the last few years which have enabled us to create energy distribution.”

Three large wood burning installations produce two MW of power to heat 550 dwellings and the city is one of the top generators of solar power. Heat from the city’s waste incinerator fuels 140 buildings.

Mr Nolan believes that clear planning policies are essential.

“Sheffield was the first of the core cities to have a Local Development Framework in place with very clear and supportive planning initiatives that have encouraged the adoption of sustainable fuels. 

“We also have businesses in the city who have responded to opportunities such as Feed in Tariffs,” he said. 

Mr Nolan believed that national initiatives such as CRC and emissions trading were driving reductions in the business sector, especially in manufacturing.

The first CRC league tables, rating the energy efficiency performance of large businesses and public organisations, will be published later this autumn.



Readers' comments (3)

  • Warren Hatter

    It’s good that LGC has used this story to highlight some of the real progress made by local authorities in reducing carbon. But I’m afraid that the stats showing falling emissions in every authority only tell part of the story: the territorial part.

    Once we take into account the emissions we are all responsible for, the emissions needed to create the goods and services we use and buy, the story is very different. These embedded emissions have been increasing, but central and local government don’t report them. So the real story is that every area is responsible for way more carbon that we admit, and most of it is outsourced.

    Some authorities, such as West Sussex County Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, are starting to understand the consumption footprint of their area, and explore how it can influence policy. And they are part of a growing trend: only this week, an Inquiry was launched by the parliamentary Energy & Climate Change Committee to investigate the case for consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions reporting in the UK.

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  • It is good to see so many authorities making progress on reducing carbon emissions, however in my view getting the balance correct between energy efficiency measures and renewables programmes will be key.

    The numbers of authorities pursuing significant renewables programme is growing on a weekly basis with many utilising feed in tariffs for solar, renewable obligations certificates for wind and the renewable heat incentive for biomass.

    On some of these projects the amount of energy produced, once up and running, actually exceeds the councils annual energy usage.

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  • Roger

    I am obviously missing something here. The examples given all point to private industry and activity influencing the rise and fall of emissions, not council actions. Also, proposing to navel gaze even further by looking at the activity based emissions footprint of councils, whilst failing to stridently condemn those nations that are contributing to the global increase in emissions, is one of the reasons the public continues to be sceptical about the whole process.
    Likewise, stories in the press of wind turbine companies being paid £m's to not generate, with these payments being bled from the pockets of already hard consumers, does little for the cause of consumption reduction.
    One could even argue that councils that choose to cash in on the outlandish feed-in tarrif system that has been cooked up by government and helps to inflate domestic energy bills even further, are being complicit in making life for the ordinary working people of this country not better, but harder!

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