The future’s bright — the future’s local

Here’s an interesting report that came out on Monday, published by the Sustainable Development Commission.

The opening sentence says it all: “The physical infrastructure in our villages, towns and cities requires significant upgrading and in doing so we have the opportunity to tackle climate change, deliver reliable and efficient transport networks, improve health and well being, secure a healthy natural environment, improve long-term housing supply, maximise employment opportunities and make our communities safer and more cohesive.”

You can read the executive summary here: The Future is Local – exec sum.pdf

And the full report can be downloaded here:
Key recommendations are:

  1. Government should support an integrated, area-based approach to upgrading local infrastructure as a cost effective way of achieving maximum sustainable outcomes in an area.
  2. Government should improve the evidence base on the cost-effectiveness and benefits (monetised and non-monetised) of working with communities to deliver sustainable outcomes.
  3. The local authorities’ role as local leader on climate change mitigation and adaptation measures should be formalised.
  4. Government should ensure that regulatory frameworks for infrastructure and utility providers enable and support an integrated, area-based approach to achieving sustainable outcomes.
  5. The department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) should have responsibility for coordinating cross-governmental support for neighbourhood partnerships.
  6. Public sector funding mechanisms should promote devolution of funding to neighbour- hood partnerships to enable them to influence decisions on how public sector money is spent in their area.
  7. A new Green Investment Bank should direct finance to a wide range of low carbon infrastructure projects including energy efficiency at a variety of scales, including neighbourhood.
  8. Government should minimise development risk through provision of clear policy support for neighbourhood retrofit.
  9. Local authorities should be enabled to borrow against Feed-in-Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive income streams.
  10. Government should create ways in which local communities are able to derive long-term benefits from the siting of low carbon energy infrastructure, such as new housing or wind turbines, in their area.

The report explains how each of these objectives could be achieved.

I have no idea whether I agree with all of them, but it is certainly interesting to realise that the government is looking into these kinds of questions, and coming up with these kinds of answers.

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