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:
But obstacles to sustainable energy projects were identified including:
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