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Why has the West Midlands lost out on carbon reduction funding?

The West Midlands has several leading local authorities on carbon reduction identified by the Audit Commission, such as Birmingham and Worcestershire. SWM were informed recently that the Government was about to designate several carbon reduction pilots within the region as part of a £3 million national programme. The aim of the pilots  to reward current good practice and inspire further action and innovation.

Imagine our suprise when the pilots were announced by Communities Secretary John Denham – no authority in the region was designated. Apparently behind the scenes lobbying had added several other authorities at the expense of our region.

Our Regional Minister, Ian Austin can now add getting a low carbon authority pilot to his to do list, as well as getting us a low carbon economic zone. Oh yes Manchester also got a low carbon zone at Christmas… Lets see what the regional low carbon task force delivers..

Simon Slater, SWM

To find out what we are missing out on read the extract from the press release below;

Extract from Press Release ”Local action on climate change will drive down fuel bills and generate new income for councils” (January 28th 2010)

Radical action by councils on driving down carbon emissions will help cut fuel bills and reduce global warming Communities Secretary John Denham said today, as he announced the nine pioneering local authorities that will work with Government to develop an ambitious programme of action to tackle climate change.

 Manchester, Leeds City region, Bristol, Oxford, Northumberland, Haringey, Nottingham, Plymouth and Bournemouth Poole and Dorset MAA will work with Government over the coming twelve months to pioneer and test new local carbon frameworks. These councils will take centre stage in the UK’s action to tackle climate change whilst residents in those areas will reap the benefits of large scale home insulation projects, alternative sources of energy and the emergence of greener communities which together could reduce fuel bills alongside wider benefits.

The frameworks will promote new and more effective ways of meeting Governments ambitions on the essential climate change agenda. The eventual aim is to incentivise all councils to significantly reduce their carbon emissions.

By working more closely with energy suppliers to develop ambitious plans for ‘greening’ up domestic and non-domestic properties, increasing the demand for renewable energy, considering how to increase the economic viability of new energy sources, boosting links to heat and energy schemes and make more effective use of surplus energy to power homes could potentially unlock new sources of income for local authorities.

The local carbon frameworks will involve councils:

  • Setting out a clear set of targets for action and a route for progress and milestones. Many of the councils involved have already set themselves stretching targets to reduce carbon emissions – 40 per cent reductions and higher by 2020. The frameworks will support ambitions for going even further, faster
  • Developing a clear strategy for how carbon reductions can be achieved. Robust and strongly evidence based; this strategy will need to articulate how the council will secure community buy in and involvement
  • Producing a delivery plan involving all its partners, including those outside the formal strategic partnership.

Plans might set out what action is needed on issues spanning recycling, energy efficiency, wind power, transport and more.

Councils would be expected to put together a prospectus setting out how they would develop and deliver a local carbon framework. This would be negotiated and agreed with Government. The prospectus will then be negotiated and agreed with Government. It will then be down to councils to take forward delivery and report on its achievements.

Local authorities will also be able to use their prospectus to set out an ‘ask’ of central government. Councils will be expected to maximise the use of their existing freedoms and flexibilities but Government is ready to offer additional help and support and look at what more can be done to help councils deliver.

The pilot authorities being announced today will work with Government to help develop and test the concept. Further pilot programmes will be developed in the coming months. £3m has been allocated to support the pilot programmes.

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