Headlines: March 10th, 2008

Local authority leaders will this week unveil plans to make communities more sustainable and to give councils a stronger role in Britain reaching its Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. The Local Government Association will reveal its proposals at its Sustainable Communities Summit,which begins in Liverpool tomorrow.

In the build up to the summit the LGA has produced a report which says an action plan to insulate every home in the country would drastically cut emissions, end fuel poverty for half a million people and cut domestic energy bills. It estimates that such a scheme could save some 10 million householders more than 200 pounds a year as well as reducing household carbon emissions by more than a fifth.

As well as learning more about the LGA’s proposals, delegates to this week’s summit will consider a number of ways to strengthen the role of local councils in the CERT programme. The proposals include the possibility of full responsibility and a legal obligation for councils to meet carbon reduction targets; identifying priority households for insulation; more transparency for consumers to see how the premium on their bills to pay for energy efficiency measures is being spent; integrating CERT into other council services, such as helping older people to clear their lofts before insulation is carried out and stronger local accountability, which could include forcing energy firms to attend open meetings.

A new climate change campaign, ‘Small Change, Big Difference’, will be launched at the Summit.

Councillor Paul Bettison,the chairman of the LGA’s Environment Board, said climate change was the most significant threat to long-term prosperity and stability. “A national insulation programme would dramatically reduce carbon emissions and harness the desire of householders to make their homes more energy efficient,” he said.

Utility companies, he added, were making eye-watering profits at the expense of families but if the firms made the same contribution as householders, 10 million homes could be insulated and two billion pounds could be taken off energy bills.