Tag Archives: Local Authorities

Three quarters of councils are switching off or dimming streetlights

22 December 2014: “Of Britain’s 5.7 million streetlights 558,000 now being shut off at night, an eight fold increase on 2010, figures showAccording to a major survey of the 141 of the 150 councils in charge of lighting Britain’s streets 50 have switched some lights off altogether, 98 councils have decided to dim at least some streetlights. Overall 106 of the 141 councils, doing one or the other, or both figures obtained by Labour Party from FOI requests reveal.”
Read full Daily Telegraph article here.

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North London Green Deal Funding

4 March 2014:Welcome announcement today from DECC that the first tranche of funding to local authorities from the Green Deal Communities Fund includes an unspecified amount to “6 north London boroughs led by Haringey“.

No details have been released as yet in relation to the Mayor’s bid to the fund with 7 London boroughs: Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Greenwich, Kingston, Redbridge, Sutton and Wandsworth (see here and here for more details) – however, this was only submitted to DECC in late December. The Mayor is also supporting a bid “led by LB Camden which will drive take-up of Green Deal within the private rented sector.”

Following the announcement on 2 December 2013, there is now £80 million of capital funding available under the Fund.

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Local authorities are taking charge of their energy supply…

February 2014: Useful Guardian online web discussion on how ‘Local authorities are taking charge of their energy supply, so what can we learn from projects so far? Good level of London contributions to the debate, including representatives from Hackney, Haringey and Repowering London. Worth a quick read!

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Barking & Dagenham most energy efficient local authority in UK

November 2013: A news release from Imperial College highlights a recent study examining the energy consumption of all 198 urban local authorities in the UK, including 33 boroughs in London.  Dr James Keirstead has developed a “new method that draws on three different measures of energy efficiency, currently used by city planners, to create the ranking. The aim was to find the fairest methodology for determining energy efficiency that could give planners an improved way of spotting best practice, leading to more energy efficient and sustainable policies in the future.”

“The London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham and Hackney topped the league table of all UK urban areas analysed in the study…This may be because both are low income areas, equating to lower energy usage. Residents of those areas are also more reliant on public transport and these boroughs lack energy-intensive manufacturing and commerce, which may also be other factors that explain why consumption is lower.”

The news report is a very short summary of a detailed research paper published by Dr Keirstead in technical journal Energy Policy (which unfortunately has a price tag associated with downloading the paper). The table from the paper providing a ranking of UK local authorities by average energy efficiency score is reproduced below:

Other London boroughs within the top 10 are Hackney, Merton, Redbridge and Kingston. Oddly, the top two ranked London councils are both within inner London, however, the remaining three in the 10 are all suburban local authorities.

Local authorities in England have now reported to Government on energy efficiency activities in their area in HECA update reports – for more of which, see here.

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DECC HECA Research

November 2013: All English local authorities were required to submit an updated Home Energy Conservation study report to DECC by 31 March 2013. An earlier post goes into these requirements in more detail and provides links to the report from those London boroughs who had posted them online on their website.

DECC have now published research summarising around 245 of these reports (see the Excel spreadsheet on the following link) as well as a document providing links to all reports published online. See both here. Only 20 London boroughs reports are however summarised on the spreadsheet. The HECA list states that some London boroughs have still not submitted reports: these appear to be Barking & Dagenham, Brent, Lambeth and Southwark.

It’s unclear if Bexley, Islington and Merton have submitted reports, as no links are listed – though the list does not say explicitly set out that these reports have not been provided: however, their actions are also not summarised on the spreadsheet.

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Brixton Energy on the Beeb

November 2013: The recent BBC London coverage of the Brixton Energy solar schemes can now be viewed on Youtube here.  The new piece includes interviews with Brixton Energy and Repowering London Director Agamemnon Otero and Labour Council Leader of Lambeth, Lib Peck.

Cllr Peck states in her interview that local authorites should be looking to work on similar projects in their own areas but it will be about the will of councils to say they want to make these projects happen and get rid of the challenges and obstacles.

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Licence Lite Update

October 2013: There has been little news recently on progress being made for the first ‘license lite’ license to  be awarded – however – discussions do continue and below some recent references to the initiative are gathered together.

First, DECC’s Community Energy – Call for Evidence paper published in June 2013 covered the issue stating:

“96. Community renewable electricity projects typically sell their electricity through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), whereby an energy supply company agrees to buy electricity from a generator over a fixed period of time at a fixed rate. For community electricity generators it can be difficult to negotiate with large energy supply companies. Aggregators such as Smartest Energy have in the past helped community groups overcome this hurdle. We also recognise that the move from the Renewables Obligation to the Contracts for Difference (CfDs) is a significant one and that the structure of PPAs will need to change, to reflect the changes to the risk profile and the structure of CfDs. The Government has initiated a process to support the market in preparing for the CfD in order to speed this transition and reduce costs.

97. Another route to market for community-generated electricity is Licence Lite, a new form of electricity supply licence, which was proposed by Ofgem in February 2009. The purpose of the licence is to enable smaller scale electricity generators to overcome the costs, risks and complexities of operating in the electricity supply market. If successfully implemented, it will enable them to supply electricity into the retail electricity market and earn a higher market rate than at present for the power they produce.

98. Although no Licence Lite has yet been granted, initial applications have recently been made, including by the Mayor of London, through the Greater London Authority. We hope this will help resolve some of the issues around selling community-generated electricity, and we will be keen to see what evidence comes out of these cases.

And two recent workshops also provided some information on the background to Licence Lite. At Ofgem’s community energy workshop held in September, Ofgem officials provided a short presentation on the basic benefits of being ‘License Lite’. And law firm Nabarro – who have undertaken significant work in this area for the GLA – held an event in July with a strong focus on licence lite where a helpful presentation was provided by the GLA providing information of their work to date and anticipated further actions. Some previous posts also go into further detail.

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City Power Play: 8 Ways Local Energy Policies Can Boost the Economy

October 2013: Really interesting new report by US-based organisation, the  Institute for Local Self-Reliance, describing how “dozens of cities are boosting their local economies while dramatically reducing greenhouse gasesCity Power Play:  8 Practical Local Energy Policies to Boost the Economy provides case studies on various US cities which have used the following routes to help promote energy efficiency and renewables through the following actions:

  1. Municipal utilities
  2. Community choice aggregation
  3. Building energy codes
  4. Building energy use disclosure
  5. Local tax authority
  6. Solar mandates
  7. Permitting
  8. Local energy financing

A lot to learn from this excellent analysis, which can be downloaded here.

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Using Local Powers to Maximise Energy Efficiency Retrofit Toolkit

August 2013CAG Consultants on behalf of the GLA have developed a new toolkit – Using Local Powers to Maximise Energy Efficiency Retrofit Toolkit – “to help London’s councils identify and implement solutions to help attract investment and delivery for energy efficiency measures.  It focuses on three commonly cited challenges: planning, data and logistics.” The report highlights that:

  • The opportunity for energy retrofitting in London’s housing is immense: more than one in five of the U.K.’s solid walled homes are in the capital, as well as 14 per cent of England’s fuel poor homes.
  • Energy efficiency projects can regenerate entire communities, drive up housing values and engage residents in wider issues of sustainability
  • Retrofitting also provides an opportunity for pioneering local authorities to get an edge in the growing energy efficiency market and generate local jobs.
  • London has the highest proportion of properties in conservation areas of any UK city – around 500,000 properties. For these properties, planning permission is required for most works which change the external appearance of the property.

The guide provides some helpful references to planning guidance issued by Camden (also see here and here for further information) and Haringey to help support energy efficiency retrofit measures such as solid wall insulation. A further barrier often faced by retrofit programmes has been identifying the most vulnerable homes that would benefit from increased levels of insulation as a priority,  and the report provides some useful information on data-sharing initiatives undertaken by Southwark and Haringey councils, working alongside colleagues in housing and benefits teams, to help overcome this [p 27-30].

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Are London Health & Wellbeing Boards taking fuel poverty seriously?

July 2013:  The Health and Social care Act 2012 established new Health and Wellbeing Boards for each top tier and unitary authority. These operated in ‘shadow form’ over the period 2012-13 taking on full  statutory functions from April 2013.  The boards have strategic influence over commissioning decisions across health, public health and social care and a new Age UK report has conducted research to “determine whether the newly formed Health and Wellbeing Boards in England are taking fuel poverty as seriously as is needed.”

The  report sets out that : “Every available Health and Wellbeing Strategy published before March 2013 was looked at to determine the influence of fuel poverty on the priorities set by each Health and Wellbeing board. The results are based on the 122 Health and Wellbeing Strategies that were available, and show that

  • More than half of the Health and Wellbeing Boards appear to be side-lining issues surrounding fuel poverty altogether.
  • Only 4% seem to be doing as much as possible to help combat fuel poverty within their local community.
  • Some Boards consider fuel poverty in their community to be decreasing. This could be because they are using figures from 2010, an unusual year when (against the trend) the number of fuel poor households decreased, and before the subsequent round of high fuel price increases. These figures are now outdated and incorrect.”

Each Health and Wellbeing Strategy available was given a rating of between 1 and 5 (indicating poor to excellent respectively).  Of the five example strategies examined and given the worst rating (1), two London local authorities are highlighted – Ealing and Waltham Forest. Worryingly, page 6 of the report sets out the 122 strategies examined, a further 12 London boroughs are rated (1): Barnet, Brent, Bromley, Camden, Hackney, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lewisham, Merton, Newham.

The City of London, Croydon, Greenwich, Haringey, Harrow, Kingston, Sutton, Westminster are rated (2). Havering and Wandsworth are rated (3). A few boroughs appear to have been omitted from the table on page 6 – but are referenced in the Appendix on page 19. Barking and Dagenham actually scores the highest with a (4), Redbrige a (3), Richmond (2), and Tower Hamlets (1). Strategies for Bexley, Enfield, Hammersmith & Fulham and Lambeth were not available to the survey team. Page 19 also mentions that Southwark’s stategy could not be found.

The results are highly surprising, rating some London local authorities which have significant fuel poverty programmes in place very low (Islington being the most obvious – with its award-winning SHINE programme – which is now also being utilised by Hackney), suggesting that the consultation process that took place to establish these strategies failed to engage properly with relevant officers delivering such services. The Mayor has recently responded to some questions to him regarding his role in raising energy issues to the new Health and Wellbeing Boards – highlighting some recent work undertaken by the London Climate Change Partnership and stating that further guidance ‘bespoke environmental guidance for the 33 health and wellbeing boards in London is curently being drafted (see here and here).  Details of the new London Health Board, also critical to this discussion, can be seen in an earlier post here.

National Energy Action (NEA) held an excellent event earlier this year in Southwark – Achieving public health outcomes on fuel poverty and excess winter deaths – which looked at how health management is being devolved to local authorities and how fuel poverty needs to be integrated in these new strategies. Presentations from the seminar are available here.

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HECA & London

July 2013:  Last year the Government issued new guidance, issued under the Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA), requiring all  (English) local authorities to publish a report by 31 March 2013 setting out their plans to achieve improved energy efficiency. Before looking at how London boroughs responded to this new requirement, it helps to have  a quick look back to how this all came about…

Following a short limited release consultation in June 2012 – DECC published its new guidance on 26 July 2012 for local authorities (or – as the guidance states – to English Energy Conservation Authorities) with Minister Greg Barker stating in the accompanying  press release that:

“This new robust guidance will support and encourage all local authorities to realise the significant benefits of upgrading homes. The Green Deal will be a fantastic tool to help with this, and I look forward to hearing how local authorities are using it to enable people to save energy and money.”

“A well developed report in response to HECA, highlighting key opportunities, will help attract potential funding partners to work with the authority and other local community groups and stakeholders to the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

A Local Government Association briefing note produced shortly after provides some useful background on the guidance requirements.

Continue reading…

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IMF point to local authorities to support recovery

22 May 2013: Interesting to see that today’s International Monetary Fund (IMF) statement United Kingdom—2013 Article IV Consultation Concluding Statement of the Mission – includes the following recommendation to the Chancellor:

“Investment in infrastructure, notably in transport and energy, could be supported by streamlining the planning application process and removing regulatory uncertainty. To accelerate the implementation of infrastructure projects, more authority over planning decisions should be devolved to local authorities, with financial incentives provided through greater revenue sharing.”

Further information on the IMF’s findings can be found on the following press release – U.K. Should Restore Growth, Rebalance Economy.

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