Friday 27 January 2012
With recent announcements on feed in tariffs for solar photovoltaics creating such controversy, many could have been forgiven for believing the opportunity for local government to deliver local growth through its response to climate change had gone. From what I have seen in councils around the country, this is far from the case. However, the reduction in tarrifs does create an opportunity to reappraise what strategy authorities should pursue in a rapidly changing environment.
It could be said that there has been an over emphasis on renewables to the detriment of energy efficiency measures of late. Indeed, it has been a bit like investing in larger size clothing to tackle an expanding waistline rather than focusing on the fundamental problem of over consumption.
In the current financial climate nobody needs to apologise for building their previous strategy around pursuing feed in tariffs, renewable obligations certificates or the renewable heat incentive to fund an overall approach to tackling climate change. However, I predict a rebalancing of strategy brought about by a shifting Government emphasis towards energy efficiency measures signalled by Green Deal. Significant opportunities exist for local authorities in this area and, as with the feed in tarrifs, councils that move first will get the most benefit, while those that dawdle may fall victim to funds running out further down the line.
One authority that has been at the forefront of strategy development on environmental sustainability over the past decade is Nottingham City Council and there will be very few in local government who are not familiar with the Nottingham Declaration. An ambitious plan has been developed aimed at providing 20% of the city’s energy through renewable and low carbon sources by 2020; the rate is 11.5% already.
I was therefore interested to hear the authority’s plans for Green Deal. It is looking to become a Green Deal provider and targeting an £80m investment with potential benefit for 12,900 properties across the city. This should generate £13m of annual savings with a payback period of 20 years.
Combine this with recent investment in solar and the 8,000 jobs that are predicted from the imminent expansion of the city’s tram system and you can see very quickly how an economic growth strategy built around energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy schemes adds up.
APSE's view is that at a time when local government is once again being looked at as a vehicle for creating local economic growth it would be surprising if the opportunities that the green economy creates were not near the top of the list for politicians and strategists alike.
Thursday 31 March 2011
Spoke today at APSE's Northern symposium on 'Avoiding the road to nowhere' at Formby Hall.
This was the latest event in our roadshow on discussing with our membership the financial challenges they face and debating some of the solutions around efficiency, income generation and innovation.
Also speaking was Paul Sanderson from St Helen's Council, who identified measures that they are taking around energy efficiency and renewables to save money and improve their performance in relation to reducing carbon emmissions.
Caroline Finnett from Walker Morris presented on what social and environmental actions you can include in procurement. She also used the opportunity to promote the research APSE has completed and our publication on a Sustainable Development Toolkit. Walker Morris provide the legal advice on this.
Wednesday 16 March 2011
Busy couple of days in London, where I attended a couple of conferences and had several meetings.
The first event was 'The Public Sector Efficiency Expo', where I almost seen Francis Maude outline the coalition Government's policy on Public Services.
I say almost because despite turning up early at the Business Design Centre in Islington the organisers hadn't anticipated how many people would want to get into the main hall and it was overflowing with people. I ended up watching the session, chaired by Ben Page, from a balcony trying to make out what was going on through a dodgy sound system. Don't think I will be going back next year.
Had a really useful meeting in the afternoon at the Department for Transport, where we discussed the development of the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme. The meeting was quite stimulating as the civil servants engaged in an open diaologue as to how we could communicate the programmes aims effectively, including the use of social networking.
I then went off to discuss a research project on Insourcing services that we are undertaking for a client.
My second day allowed me to attend the Sustainable Development UK conference at the QE11 centre in Westminster, whilst their were a number of interesting speakers, Phillip Monaghan was the one who I enjoyed listening to the most as he spoke about his book 'sustainability in austerity'. In the afternoon I met up with another research client to discuss a project we are undertaking on the employment opportunities created in the green agenda.