Thursday, 21 July 2011

Brighton and Hove to publish "climate change action plan" in the autumn

A "climate change action plan" for Brighton and Hove will be published later this year, according to a report presented at a council cabinet meeting on 15 July 2011.

A spokesperson said the report outlined moves to "radically boost energy from renewable sources produced in Brighton & Hove".

Cabinet councillor for environment Pete West said: "The council is gearing up for a massive investment in sustainable energy in the city. We're leading by example by starting with the city's biggest-ever solar electricity programme.

He said this would help the local economy and open up opportunities for others to install solar electricity using the council's buying power to bring down costs.

Cllr West said: "There is no overnight fix and we don't underestimate the technical and financial challenges. But the council will be working hard to overcome them with a range of partners and agencies." 

The report was made in response to an independent scrutiny commission set up by the council in April, which called on the authority to help radically increase use of low-carbon power citywide. The council's response made on 15th June highlighted progress:

• A major installation of solar electricity panels on dozens of council buildings and schools, plus 1,600 homes. Work is expected to start this year.
• Households encouraged to participate in domestic electricity generation in the Feed-in Tariff scheme.
• Some new or refurbished school buildings are being fitted with solar hot water and electricity panels plus air-and ground-source heat pumps which cut electricity use.
• The council has undertaken to work with developers of major schemes, such as Shoreham Port, to ensure as much renewable energy as possible is included.
• A Climate Change Action Plan will be published by the council in the autumn, addressing housing, transport, industry, commerce, and sustainable energy.
• A new online tool for developers to plan low-energy buildings introduced this month by the council's planning service.
• The council is looking into setting up a Sustainable Energy Agency to co-ordinate green power initiatives in the city. The authority is also investigating how much energy could be generated by alternative sources such as wind power.
• A 'heat mapping' exercise would identify areas where high energy demand might be met from small-scale low carbon generation locally.
• There will be work done to increase training and apprenticeships in the renewable energy sector, and a campaign to spread the low-carbon message.
• A bid for £1m of EU funds is being made, aimed at setting up apprenticeships related to green energy.
• Officials will investigate funding for a scheme to help communities generate their own low-carbon power.

The Renewables Scrutiny Panel was chaired by Dr Adrian Smith, of the Science and Technology Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex. Other panel members were councillors from various political parties including Cllrs Pete West, Warren Morgan, and David Watkins.

The Panel held four public meetings, hearing from 26 expert witnesses, including council officers, representatives of city partner organisations, experts on renewable energy, sustainable energy businesses and local residents.

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