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Carbon Emission Reduction (Local Government)

Volume 506: debated on Thursday 25 February 2010

11. What recent assessment he has made of the contribution of local government to meeting the UK’s carbon emission reduction targets. (318550)

Local authorities have a key leadership role in reducing their emissions and those occurring within their areas. The Government have announced a pilot of local carbon frameworks, which aim to increase the contribution of local authorities to meeting the UK’s carbon emissions reduction targets.

Estimates of per capita CO2 emissions for 2007, and revised estimates for 2005 and 2006, for all UK local authorities and Government office regions were published on the DECC website on 17 September and were updated on 9 November.

DECC also collects statistics on the CO2 emissions of local authorities’ own estate and operations. The Department is analysing returns for the year ending 31 March 2009 and will publish the figures soon.

I thank the Minister of State for that answer. May I press her on what powers and resources the Government intend to give to local authorities to enable them to promote green technology and sustainable development and to meet their carbon reduction commitments?

I shall begin with the carbon reduction commitment, which is, of course, a national scheme being introduced this April. Within that, local authorities will have a duty to look to their energy efficiency, and their resulting emissions will have to be measured. They will have the opportunity, in the first year, simply to record that information. We will, of course, assist in that. In order to reduce their emissions and increase their energy efficiency, they get assistance from the Carbon Trust and Salix finance loans are available. We have a very good record of working with local government. The indicators are there through the local government performance framework, and local authorities have sufficient powers to make the necessary changes. Of course, they will make a vital contribution.

An appropriate planning regulatory regime is essential for local authorities to develop local emissions reduction projects in their areas. What assessment has been made of potential changes to planning regulations that impede such developments?

Some concerns have been expressed by local authorities, and, indeed, by individual households and businesses, about the ability to introduce new technologies in a way that is consistent with local needs and local views. We have given local authorities the right to determine their own planning policies to an extent, as well as, more recently, to agree permitted development so that we can make some progress with small-scale microgeneration.