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UK100 publish ‘Powers in Place’ – The handbook of local authority Net Zero powers

‘We currently have a situation where local powers to achieve Net Zero are theoretical rather than actual.’ says Jason Torrance, Interim Chief Executive at UK100, ‘Local authorities are achieving enormous change despite, not because of, the regulatory framework and the reluctance to resource them adequately to meet the challenge of climate change.

‘Not only has a reduction in local authority funding over more than a decade impacted on capability and capacity at local level, there is also a problem with national frameworks limiting the ability of local authorities to use their powers effectively. This needs to change.’

the big ben clock tower towering over the city of london

With these words ringing in the air, UK100 launched Powers in Place, a 186-page report that examines the powers available to local authorities, identifies hurdles that they face and calls on the government to act on its recommendations. 

The report is essentially a follow-up to 2021’s ‘Power Shift’, updating the research and examining the effectiveness of strategies implemented since then.  

It has been written by Gill Fenna and Louise Marix Evans, directors of the sustainability and climate change consultancy Quantum Strategy & Technology, who describe it, fairly, as a long and complex document. They recommend it be used as:

  • A directory to consult on a specific issue, such as Clean Air Zone powers
  • A primer to give an overview of a topic area with which the reader is unfamiliar
  • A source of detailed references on legislation, powers and strategies to look up and quote if needed

Various chapters cover the areas of Transport, Buildings, Energy Infrastructure and Waste, with each chapter broken down into detailed areas of discussion. Transport for instance breaks down into subjects such as active travel, micro-mobility, clean air zones, EV charging, vehicle sharing and so on.

The report makes three key recommendations:

  • The UK government should introduce a Net Zero Local Powers Bill that permits and obliges the relevant levels of local authorities to deliver an effective pathway to Net Zero.
  • A Local-National Net Zero Delivery Framework should be co-designed between local authorities and the UK Government, overseen by a National Net Zero Delivery Unit.
  • Ministers should end competitive short-term funding and replace it with strategic, needs-based, long-term funding.

Christopher Hammond, Membership & Insights Director at UK100 and former leader of Southampton Council said: ‘From Cornwall to Greater Manchester, local and regional authorities are achieving enormous change despite the regulatory framework and the reluctance to resource them adequately to meet the challenge of climate change. This must change. The UK will not achieve Net Zero on the backs of trailblazers alone. And one of the best places to start is with a Net Zero Local Powers Bill that permits and obliges local authorities to work with their communities to deliver Net Zero.’

The full report  can be read here.

Image:  Jacob Diehl

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