See some of the good practice carried out across the country by Lib Dem councils.
Bath and North East Somerset Council
- When run by the Lib Dems, the council worked hard on environmental issues – installing LED street lighting, extending and improving the cycle network, including a cycle hire scheme for council staff.
- They have worked hard on the Green Deal and a community energy strategy that tackles fuel poverty.
- They invested in local bus services when so many others cut theirs. They expanded a scheme to cut down on lorry deliveries to the centre of Bath. Less than a third of their waste now goes to landfill
Colchester Borough Council
- Cut CO2 emissions by 37% and have committed to further reductions by 2020.
- We have installed solar panels on over 40% of our housing stock.
- We are the first Council to also fit storage batteries into some of these properties increasing the savings from the £150 p.a. currently achieved for our tenant due to the free electricity.
- Seen a major increase in cycling.
- Committed to have charging points for electric cars installed as standard in all new properties in the Borough.
- Successfully used the Better Bus fund to retrofit pollution reduction equipment into buses.
- Mayor (Lib Dem Cllr Theresa Higgins) even used a civic bike to get to events this year.
Calderdale Lib Dem Group
In 2013 we undertook a scrutiny review on the Council into the Green Economy in Calderdale.
We used the evidence gained in this Scrutiny review to secure a £1.2 million affordable warmth insulation scheme in the 2015/16 budget. Also to secure a target of a 20% energy cut in the Council's electricity consumption. (see website article on this below)
This scheme is finally now being put into practice this year.
Haringey Lib Dem Group have recently run a small campaign based on answers to their council's member enquiries around fly-tipping/litter complaints (see below).
See here for the press release based the responses.
Haringey Lib Dem questions to council's member enquiries:
- How many complaints/reports were there in the borough during each of the last two years about dumped rubbish/fly-tipping each?
- How many complaints/reports were there in the borough during each of the last two years about missed rubbish/recycling collections?
- How many complaints/reports were there in the borough during each of the last two years about littering?
- Which wards have the highest number of complaints/reports about fly-tipping in each of the last two years?
- Which wards have the highest number of complaints/reports about littering in each of the last two years?
- Which wards have the highest number of complaints/reports about missed waste/recycling collections in each of the last two years?
Bristol in 2015 was the Green Capital of Europe. Although the final bid for the accolade was presented by the independent mayor, the technical bid was submitted by the Lib Dems when they ran the Council.
The Lib Dem-led local green agenda was delivering years before there was a mayor or any Green Party Councillors. Increasingly we saw continental cities as setting the pace and aimed to be best city in the UK. Cllr Barbara Janke set up the green partnership in 2008 and we entered for ‘green capital' in 2011, coming second to Copenhagen, the clear favourite. Undeterred, and assured that our comprehensive improvements made Bristol a strong candidate, we worked with many people over a prolonged period to help bring the green capital honour to Bristol.
Liberal Democrats worked with all interested groups to green Bristol. We have worked to make both Bristol and Britain more sustainable and we have put the environment at the top of our city's agenda. When we ran the council we:
- Cancelled Labour's plans for a mass-burn incinerator for the city's household waste and fought Mr Pickles' plans to defy our planning policy. We revolutionised this city's waste system, based on recycling, smart contracting and green disposal, saving money and the environment.
- Set a target to reduce Bristol's total energy use by 30% by 2020 – the only UK city to take that bold step – so reducing our reliance on fossil fuels to nil.
- Set higher carbon targets in November 2009 for Bristol than the EU or UK targets – 40% reductions by 2020 – these targets are still on track.
- Introduced kerbside plastics collection – and were on target for zero untreated landfill before the new mayor took over.
- Invested millions in solar PV panels on over 30 school buildings and into our council housing stock.
- Achieved a £2.5m in 2011 to invest in renewable energy under the European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) Programme, one of only three UK cities who could demonstrate advanced and robust capability
- Committed the Council to using some of this money to set up the city's own energy services company.
- Introduced wind turbines in Avonmouth.
- Introduced biomass boilers into our schools (as a result of our action Bristol now holds the largest cluster of biomass boilers in the South West).
- Initiated and published the council's first ‘Walking Strategy'.
- Introduced park-keepers in every one of our major parks after achieving ‘green flag' status in 11 major parks.
- Pushed recycling rates up above 50% – on our way to 70% – and slashed residual waste output by two-thirds (under the mayor recycling rates have dropped to under 50%).
- Tested the use of hydrogen as an alternative power source, a by-product of our waste treatment, ignored by the mayor.
- Reduced 40% of the energy cost of street lights, saving £1m, cutting emissions without turning any lights off.
- Delivered funds to kick-start improvements in Bristol through Cycling City (under the last government) and the LSTF (under the Coalition) so increasing cycling trips by 63% during our administration with our measures delivering much more since.
- Helped to make Bristol a sustainable city to live and laid the foundations for the green capital success.
- Developed an Environmental Technologies and Services sector – one of the largest in the UK – by gaining the trust of investors to our city.
- Developed close relationships with the marine energy sector, focussed on the Severn Estuary and Cardiff Bay.
- Launched the Bristol Pound
- Are actively campaigning, most recently for Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in the city centre, and to maintain the pace of all the LibDem green initiatives in place – and waiting – to sustain this city's great reputation for living, working, playing and free-thinking!
Improving air quality in York
York has one of the most extensive air quality monitoring networks in the UK, outside London. We have undertaken real time monitoring of air pollution since 1999 and currently operate 9 real time Air Quality Monitoring Stations (AQMS) plus 233 nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes. As well as air pollution, this data is used, together with our air pollution model, to inform planning and transport policy and decisions. The quality and history of our monitoring and data is useful to academia and we work with the universities of York and Leeds and the Health Improvement Academy.
Air Quality Management
Monitoring of air pollution led to the declaration of York's first Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) covering the congested city centre in 2002. Two of the main routes into the city were also declared as AQMAs due to high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2): Fulford Road in 2010 and Salisbury Terrace in 2012. The city's informal bus interchange at Rougier Street and adjacent roads were declared in 2012 as NO2 hit hourly pollution levels.
York's first Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) in 2004 focussed on getting people out of cars and onto buses including Park & Rides, plus walking and cycling. The second AQAP in 2006 was similar.
These actions had some initial success in that air pollution in York decreased until 2005, but then steadily increased until 2010. Modal shift policies alone were insufficient to deliver the air quality objectives.
UK'S first Low Emission Strategy
Increased air pollution was thought to be for a number of reasons including increased traffic and development. Well meaning policies to reduce climate change such as incentivising the uptake of diesel cars, led to increased pollution. Recent scandals have revealed that real world emissions from diesel vehicles are often several times over emission targets. York needed a strategy to balance climate change and air quality.
In 2010 the Low Emission Partnership chose York as one of seven national low emission champions". I came up with the idea that tackled all emissions from all sources, especially transport and planning, and this first holistic Low Emission Strategy (LES) in the UK was adopted by York in October 2012. The LES aims to accelerate the uptake of low emission vehicles and fuels.
Whilst transport is essential to the city's economy, increased numbers of (diesel) buses and other vehicles was making air quality worse.
Key LES measures
- Appointment of the UK's first low emission officer to facilitate improved working between the teams responsible for air quality, climate change and transport and to develop in house expertise in low emission vehicles and fuels.
- Electric vehicle charging network at council car parks, key retail and leisure facilities across York, funded via grants and the planning process.
- First local authority ‘Pay as You Go' EV charging network. Usage rates are 600 car charging sessions per month across 30 charging points. The electric buses also use the rapid chargers with an additional 600 charging sessions per month.
- Electric Park & Ride bus service at Poppleton and Monk Cross
- World's first retro-fitted fully electric double decker tour bus
- Taxis: incentive scheme offers discounts to taxi drivers to switch from diesel to low emission vehicles resulting in the uptake of over 60 hybrid taxis. New standards for taxi emissions are currently being consulted upon
- Reducing emissions from development via a low emission planning approach – minimum standard for EV charging on new developments, Construction Emission Management Plans and, for largest schemes, on-site emission mitigation or contribution to off-site emission mitigation measures e.g. York stadium development
- Eco-stars freight recognition scheme
- Hybrid and Electric car club vehicles used as council pool cars for staff travel
Recent success and recognition
- £308k to retrofit old diesel school buses via Clean Bus Technology Fund
- York one of eight Ultra Low Emission Cities recognised by the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and awarded £816k to extend EV charging network and to use solar panels for charging
- JorAir voted best local authority website for the past 3 years (jorair.co.uk/)
York's third Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3)
Air pollution remains above the health based objectives, probably due to more diesel cars, vehicles not meeting emission standards and ongoing development . York's third AQAP is the main delivery document for the LES and includes:
- Plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone to ensure most frequent buses are ultra low emission by 2018
- Site identified for a freight transhipment centre linked to a Compressed Natural Gas refuelling facility
- Enforcement of anti-idling offences
Air quality and public health
- An estimated 84 people in York die prematurely each year due to the impacts of poor air quality, more than alcohol, obesity and road traffic accidents combined
- Work with Public Health, Public Health England, local universities and the Health Improvement Academy to determine the true economic and health costs of poor air quality in York.
- York AQ officers represented on Public Health England (PHE) air quality working group to inform national policy development / priorities within PHE