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Councils’ carbon emissions revealed by DECC

15 July 2010

As the carbon footprint of every local council in England was published last week, Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne announced that Councils can sell green electricity into the national grid in future

 In a speech last week to the Local Government Association annual conference, Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne announced that he wants local councils to be allowed to sell electricity they produce from renewables to the national electricity grid. Mr Huhne said: “It’s ridiculous that the 1976 Local Government Act prevents Councils from selling electricity from local wind turbines, or from anaerobic digestion. I want to see this repealed and by the end of the year I hope local authorities will be able to sell electricity from renewables – generating revenue to help local services and keep Council Tax down. Local communities can truly benefit from the low-carbon transition.”
The carbon footprint of every local council in England is also published today, for the first time. The new figures calculate the CO2 produced by Councils in powering and heating their buildings, such as libraries, schools and leisure centres, as well as emissions from business travel, fleet vehicles and even refuse trucks.
Mr Huhne said: “By calculating their own emissions and the estimated costs of energy use, local councils will be able to identify how to save emissions and save money. Wasting energy means that money that could be spent on local services is also being wasted. These new statistics should put energy wastage and energy efficiency at the forefront of the minds of councillors and council officials.”
The emissions data was collected from local authorities across England for the 2008/2009 financial year. It shows that:
 East Cambridgeshire (574 tonnes), East Northamptonshire (606 tonnes), Broadland (806 tonnes), Isles of Scilly (854 tonnes), and West Somerset (881 tonnes) local authorities were the lowest emitters
 Birmingham (177,360 tonnes) Hertfordshire (168,570 tonnes), Lancashire (157,890 tonnes), Leeds (136,900 tonnes) and Hampshire (133,950 tonnes) local authorities were the highest emitters.
In total, local authorities were responsible for 8.3m tonnes of CO2 which is about 1.6 percent of the UK Total Net CO2 emissions for calendar year 2008 (532.8 MtCO2). The data also shows how much electricity local authorities have generated themselves, with over 600,000 KWh generated from onsite wind or solar power, and 33,800,000 KWh from onsite biomass.
The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 as amended by the Energy Act 1989 gives local authorities power to sell heat, but includes a provision preventing local authorities from selling electricity which is produced otherwise than in association with heat. DECC issued a consultation in March of this year seeking views on a proposal to prescribe a power to allow local authorities to sell electricity generated from renewable as well as combined heat and power sources. The consultation is available here: 
DECC estimates that 150 to 180 local authorities in England will be obliged to participate in the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC EES), with the remaining non-qualifying authorities potentially being required to make a CRC information disclosure. LAs will need to continue to collect and record data to the requirements of this scheme.

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