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Sustainable energy stymied

Sustainable energy projects are a chance for councils to tackle climate change, kick-start the economy and create jobs, but policy and funding barriers are standing in their way, research from UNISON shows.


A survey of councils across the UK found:

  • 99% said sustainable energy would reduce their energy costs
  •  94% of councils think there is an urgent need for such projects
  •  82% believe the public in their area would support emphasis on sustainability and          jobs growth through sustainable energy schemes


But obstacles to sustainable energy projects were identified including:

  • 94% of respondents think there is a need for closer links between environmental and economic policies
  • the majority of respondents do not believe sufficient skills exist to respond to sustainable energy opportunities
  • only 12% of respondents think the national skills development programme is moving rapidly enough


The new green team: Local government, sustainable energy, jobs and skills was commissioned by UNISON, produced by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) and is supported by the TUC.


Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary, said: ‘‘This research demonstrates how bringing together sustainable energy measures, to reduce carbon emissions, with efforts to create employment, can be a powerful engine for economic recovery. This could be happening all over the country, but there are too many barriers currently standing in the way. National government should be working with local authorities as a matter of urgency to beat those barriers. It will help place green-jobs at the heart of economic recovery’.

APSE’s chief executive, Paul O’Brien, said: ‘There is clearly huge potential for sustainable energy projects to create jobs and economic growth while also responding to environmental challenges. But the current policy and financial context is creating  mixed messages. The Government needs to provide clarity on the Feed in Tariff (FITs) regime and make sure it provides proper incentives. It must work with local authorities to establish how the forthcoming Green Deal can best operate to stimulate economic growth. And as a nation, the UK needs to have skills in place to respond to opportunities the green economy presents.’

Notes for editors

1) The global economy for green goods and services predicted to expand to £4.3trillion by 2015.

2)  The term ‘sustainable energy projects’ used in the research report includes renewable energy from wind, solar, tidal, biomass and geothermal sources as well as energy efficiency measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation and energy efficient heating.

3) Changes to levers such as Feed in Tariff (FITs) are creating uncertainty for local government, with a review earlier this year hitting schemes over 50kw and potential cuts of 30% to 40% mooted that will impact on smaller projects after 31 March 2012.

4) The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has members from 250 councils providing front-line services across the UK.

5) UNISON is the UK’s largest public sector trade union representing over 1.4 million members within the UK

For interview or further comment please contact Rebecca Findley at UNISON on r.findley@unison.co.uk or APSE Mo Baines on mbaines@apse.org.uk





Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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