News story

Huhne to overturn ban on councils selling green electricity

Carbon footprint for England's local councils revealed

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


A ban on councils selling green electricity into the national grid is to be overturned, Climate Change Secretary The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP said today as the carbon footprint of every local council in England was published.

In a speech to today’s Local Government Association annual conference, Mr Huhne will say 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I want to see this repealed and by the end of the year I hope local authorities will be able to sell electricity from renewables - generating revenue to help local services and keep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 8.3 million tonnes of CO2 which is about 1.6% 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.

Notes for editors:

  1. 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.
  2. The geographical remit of the data coverage is for England only.
  3. The data was collected as part of National Indicator 185. National Indicators were established for Local Authorities to report on from April 2008. All National Indicators are currently under review by CLG for future years.
  4. Statistical release information, full data tables and methodology are available
  5. The 8.3 million tonnes of CO2 only, not CO2e, and is compared against the UK net emissions total for CO2, not CO2e, for 2008 (523.8MtCO2). 532.8MtCO2 is the total for the UK in 2008, net of land use changes, without taking into effect emissions trading. See the Greenhouse Gas emissions statistics section for more details.
  6. DECC estimates that 150 to 180 local authorities in England will be obliged to participate in the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, 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.
Published 7 July 2010