A new scheme has been launched to support local authorities protect homes, roads and parks from the effects of climate change
The Climate Local initiative has been set up after an agreement to commit to adapt the country to climate change was signed between Defra, the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Local Government Association (LGA).
The agreement was reached at a Climate Summit hosted by the LGA in response to the impacts identified in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2012, published earlier this year.
The Summit was called to assess what more needed to done to prepare councils, and the vital public services they are responsible for, for a changing climate and how Government can help them develop adaptation plans. Their findings will inform the National Adaptation Programme, which the Government will publish in 2013.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell and Local Government Association Chair Sir Merrick Cockell signed the agreement, signalling the importance of councils and central government working together to protect key services such as, health, economic development and public spaces such as parks, from the affects of climate change.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Local councils are responsible for the services we use on a daily basis, from the condition of the roads, state of our parks and providing social care – so it’s vitally important that they are prepared for climate change so these services will remain unaffected.
“This agreement sets out the areas where action is needed, so councils can prioritise and commit resources in the best possible way. We will be working closely with the Local Government Association as we plan the National Adaptation Programme that will ensure the country is climate ready.”
LGA Chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said: “Councils are already at the heart of protecting people from the disruption caused by the changing climate and extreme weather. We know firsthand the risks and how best to mitigate them whether that be developing flood defences, gritting the roads during a snowy winter or laying on extra care for vulnerable people in a heat wave.
“Local authorities have built up a wealth of experience and expertise at combating the challenges brought by Mother Nature. Weather conditions and climate threats differ throughout the country. This is why it is key that local authorities are given maximum flexibility to develop their own ideas and strategies. Centrally imposed targets often miss the point and, at a time when councils have had their budgets cut by 28 per cent, risk being unaffordable.
“To support councils the LGA is developing a new initiative, Climate Local, to drive and champion council-led action on climate change in a way which will ensure local authorities can get the best results and value for money with the resources they have available.”
Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said: “Climate Change is very real, and local leadership is crucial to tackling the problem, both now and in the future. Many councils are already leading the way and driving local action, which is crucial if their communities are to grow and prosper.
“I am delighted to support the Climate Local Initiative and the framework for locally-led action that it will provide.”
Climate Local will provide options which councils can sign up to on how to minimise the impact of climate change, provide a forum for councils to learn from each other’s experiences and help in planning the actions they need to take to be climate ready.