In February of this year, the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Green New Deal published a new report titled ‘Local Edge: An Inquiry into Climate Politics and the Economics of Recovery’.
This report follows the APPG’s Local Edge inquiry that took place in Autumn last year which focused on the role of localities in tomorrow’s economic and climate recovery. Evidence presented included addressing the role localities play in lowering energy bills and influencing low carbon lifestyles, as well as the necessary skill sets in need of investment to achieve a low carbon future. This new report seeks to look at the constructive, practical routes to enable such actions, in particular how national legislation can unlock local initiatives, increase capacity and scale.
The report is split into three main sections:
- Heat, Energy and Buildings
- Food, Land Use and Nature
- Transport and Air Quality
The report reinforces the need for for long term, well resourced and targeted intervention strategies to address household emissions, in criticism of previous missed opportunities to address energy efficiency. The report points to the example of Warmworks in Scotland, the managing agent for their fuel poverty alleviation scheme, in particular commenting on their 7 year contract period which has enabled proper planning, investment and training of contractors.
This is even better achieved through a decentralised approach, with several success stories of local authorities developing their own locally appropriate carbon reduction schemes. For example, the report discusses the Swansea standard, their basis for building their own highly energy efficient and ‘affordable to heat’, council houses using local labour and majority local materials. However, the inconsistency across local areas is clear, in particular due to the planning framework which enables planning inspectors to reject the inclusion of climate targets in Local Plans.
The report makes several recommendations, largely in favour of decentralised, local energy projects. These are found on p.8; some of particular relevance are listed below:
- Ofgem and the new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero ( must require local energy data to be put in the public domain and made fully available to more autonomous local grids.
- Grid access charging, particularly to lower voltage networks, should be radically overhauled in favour of more localised energy systems.
- Ofgem proposals for a Regional Systems Planner linking regional energy and local planning systems, should have carbon reduction duties attached to them, including a power to specify the replacement of gas boilers with heat pumps.
- In periods of excess electricity supply, Ofgem rules should prioritise the lowest carbon/lowest marginal cost supplies; ending the current situation in which wind turbines can be stood down to keep power stations running.
- To reduce price volatility, Ofgem should switch from the current pricing system based on the highest marginal cost to an average cost pricing system that favours more localised and lower cost renewables.
Discussion continues on to address the bureaucratic obstacles in place across the UK, acknowledging action in Germany which is better focused on “fast track delivery, simplified bureaucracy and localised accountability.” The report is clear we need to empower local authorities with the powers, resources and duties to make energy generation and saving the foundation of their planning and programmes. The report proposes one such route as the use of Community Municipal Investments, which allows individuals to invest directly in local authority renewal programmes. Bethesda is highlighted in the report as one such example of this, with a brief outline of how the Energy Local Club works.
It would have been brilliant to see this report further such discussions by mentioning Community Energy by name, and given the sector’s success in enabling community ownership through community shares.
Further recommendations are made on this topic, please see full list on p.10:
- The government should introduce a European style ‘right of local supply’, promoting the development of more localised energy communities across the UK.
- Clauses 32 and 33 of the Public Procurement Bill, currently at Committee Stage in the House of Lords, should be amended to enable community energy companies to bid for local supply contracts.
- DESNZ and Ofgem should replace the ECO energy efficiency programme with a revised version of Warm Zones; in which whole-area approaches to energy conservation are developed rather than individual household/supplier ones.
- The government should adopt Scotland’s Warmworks approach to energy efficiency contracts, allowing localities to enter into longer-term agreements that include up-skilling and apprenticeships.
- The government should restore energy efficiency funding programmes to at least the level reached in 2012.
- The government must ensure that planning law embraces UK net-zero climate targets and their specific inclusion in local plans.
- The government should prioritise the Swansea-style localisation of supply chains.
- DESNZ, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Treasury and Ofgem should expand the Bethesda model of community hydro, promoting the use of streams, rivers, reservoirs and lagoons for renewable energy generation.
Many recommendations are made throughout this report, however, they all all centre on one main aim:
"The government must make its commitment to 68% reduction in carbon emissions on 1990 levels by 2030 binding on all public sector organisations and agencies in relation to spending, programmes and projects with a regular reporting requirement."
We hope this summary has provided valuable insight into some of the discussions and recommendations in the report. Please do have a read of the Local Edge report if you are able.