New Skidmore report calls for powers to be given to local authorities to help deliver net zero

Thu 28 September 2023 View all news

Chris Skidmore MP, former energy minister and author of the Net Zero Review has published a new report - 'The Future is Local' - recognising that the heavy lifting for many of the policies proposed to deliver net zero will need to take place at local level. 

Published in collaboration with the Mayor of Tees Valley, Lord Ben Houchen, the new report aims to build on one of 'six foundations' in the Net Zero Review; 'Net Zero and the Community'. 

In order to continue to work with key stakeholders on developing the recommendations in the Net Zero Review, Chris Skidmore established the Mission Zero Coalition in March 2023, with the intention that the Coalition would be formed of several networks, each network seeking to highlight and continue to raise issues and challenges on the net zero pathway, yet also demonstrate the opportunity for future policy direction. Each network seeks to cover one of the ten missions set out in the Net Zero Review. The Local Mission Zero network was established both by Skidmore and Houchen, and has involved organisations including UK100, Energy Systems Catapult, West Midlands Combined Authority, Northern Powerhouse Partnership and the Mayors of London and Bristol.

The report looks at the current local authority net zero landscape and identifies the challenges that are preventing local and regional authorities from going further, faster, setting out the barriers that are holding local net zero delivery back. 

Ultimately, the report seeks to address how these challenges and recommendations can be brought together to form a new local climate action framework and a future local net zero partnership between local and central government.

Co-author Chris Skidmore said: “In too many discussions about the UK’s Net Zero commitments, the vital role of local and regional government is overlooked. Against a backdrop of wavering central government support, councils and regions are already leading the way on climate action, with many aiming to deliver Net Zero ahead of national targets.

“The Local Mission Zero Network’s first report, The Future Is Local, sets out over thirty recommendations to further the Net Zero Review’s local delivery mission. It’s clear that if central government won’t step up, it should get out of the way and allow local and regional leaders to forge ahead with their positive vision to achieve local Net Zero in partnership with communities up and down the country.

“Unleashing their ambition is the most effective way to harness the economic and regional growth opportunities that Net Zero can unlock.”

The report makes 31 recommendations, grouped into five overarching themes and key recommendations:

  • Introduce a Local Net Zero Charter to agree responsibilities and enhance partnership between the UK Government, devolved governments and regional, city and local authorities.
  • Hasten the adoption, consistency, and success of Local Area Energy Plans across the UK.
  • Develop a local Net Zero Delivery Framework to enable collaboration between UK Government and local and regional authorities, using The Local Net Zero Forum.
  • Simplify and enhance the Net Zero funding and financing landscape to support local and regional authorities with longer-term certainty, while also enabling effective public-private partnerships that can unlock inward investment.
  • Commence an urgent review in 2023, of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to ensure that the NPPF is better aligned to the scale and urgency of the Net Zero, nature recovery and adaptation challenges.

Christopher Hammond, Chief Executive of UK100, a network of local leaders who have pledged to lead a rapid transition to Net Zero in their communities ahead of the Government’s legal target, said: “Chris Skidmore and Lord Houchen’s The Future Is Local report couldn’t be more timely.

“Climate action is a responsibility that local government is ready to take on. However, with great responsibility should come great power. Or at least adequate power.

“Yet, at the moment, local and regional authorities are delivering despite a “kafkaesque” net zero regulatory framework and disjointed, short-term, competitive funding. Net zero offers so much local and regional economic growth potential. To unleash it, Ministers need to heed the recommendations in this report and empower local authorities to lead the way. The future is local.”

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