Earthsummit 2002 - A guide to UK Local Agenda 21 renewable energy projects. Earthsummit 2002
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Local Authorities.

The Guildhall in London - lit by green energy.

Many Local Authorities in the UK are playing a role in promoting the use of renewable energy.

Earth Summit 1, held in Rio in 1992, initiated a process of local level planning for the twenty first century called 'Local Agenda 21'. Around the world, local environmental organisations, working with local councils, have been developing ideas for ways in which local economic and social activities can be made more environmentally viable.

Many Local Authorities in the UK took up the challenge - indeed 93% have been involved in some way, carrying out consultative exercises with local community groups, developing action plans and implementing actual projects.

UK local authorities have demonstrated a genuine interest in the concepts of sustainable development and sustainable cities following the first Earth Summit.

Topics covered ranged from transport to health, but a crucial concern, in environmental terms, has inevitably been energy.

'Global warming' represents one of the major global environmental problems and the way we generate and use energy plays a key role in this process of climate change that seems to be underway.

Not surprisingly, Local Agenda 21 groups have looked at ways in which local energy waste can be reduced - and there is no shortage of opportunities, for example in the UK domestic sector.

Local Authorities with social housing provision have been obliged to promote energy efficiency as a result of the Home Energy Conservation Act. Now with the introduction of the Climate Change Levy there are financial benefits for councils in promoting renewable energy.

There has been a lot of interest in the idea of using non-polluting, naturally-renewed energy sources, like the sun, the wind, waves and tides. The UK has enviable renewable energy resources, and some of them can be tapped on a local, small-scale basis.

Milton Keynes is already a pioneer in this field - there are nearly three hundred solar houses of various sorts in the city.

Leicester City Council has pioneered an ambitious Sustainable Energy Strategy. It aims to reduce the cities overall energy use by half by 2025 - with renewable energy sources playing a major role.

Solar energy is seen as a key option. The Council has already installed solar cells on the council offices, and an advanced evacuated tube heating system at a city swimming pool.

Buying Green Power.

Other initiatives taken by local councils include purchasing green electricity generated from renewable sources.

Rotherham Borough Council was the first Council in the UK to purchase 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. Rotherham is in what was once a major coal mining area. Coal is still important to them, but they are also looking to the future - and the council is now getting all its power from renewable sources.

Councillor Ken Wyatt, Rotherham Borough Council:

Ken Wyatt." I don't think people realise how big a customer of energy local government is. When you think about the schools, the old peoples homes, libraries, street lighting, offices and so on. We are big consumers of electricity. The opportunity came along for the council to purchase 100% of its electricity requirements in green electricity. We took that opportunity. I think we can lead by example and make a contribution to reducing CO2 emissions by purchasing green electricity. We're bringing our emissions down by a massive 98%."

© Ambit Interactive 2002
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The DTI's New and Renewable Energy Programme
Scottish and Southern Energy plc.