local sustainability

     oursouthwest > Local Sustainability (archived in 2013)

PLEASE NOTE: This page is now an archive. Some links and information will now be out of date.

Greener Lifestyles

Think global, act local! There are many easy changes we can all make to our everyday lives to help protect and improve our local environment.

Global Action Plan - provides tips and advice for people who want to reduce the environmental impact of their lifestyles.

Ecological footprint score sheet (pdf 150kb) - simple score sheet from oursouthwest; useful for staff awareness raising campaigns.

Ecological Footprint Calculator - hosts the South West's resource flow analysis, ecological footprint analysis and sustainability assessment Stepping Forward.

Carbon Calculator - carbon calculator to help you work out your own carbon footprint.

Energy Saving Trust - sustainable energy solutions in the home and on the road.

Recycle Now campaign - for lots of useful advice, hints and tips on recycling. Learn about how easy recycling is and how you can really make a difference.

Cleaner travel - Sustrans - information and advice from the charity Sustrans who work with families, communities, policy-makers and partner organisations so that people are able to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys, with better places and spaces to move through and live in.

Transition Network - towns and cities planning for a low energy future in response to the challenge of peak oil and climate change.

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Sustainable Communities

Sustainable local communities should be sensitive to the environment, active, inclusive and safe with a common sense of purpose and a healthy local economy. Sustainable local communities are at the heart of sustainable development.

Some of the essential ingredients for local sustainability are:

  • Local decision / policy makers should listen to what local people want and involve them in the decisions that affect them.
  • Low carbon - energy used efficiently and use of renewable energy.
  • Cut consumption of materials, production of waste and pollution and the development of green field sites.
  • Protection of the local biodiversity.
  • Increase local access to facilities without the need to use the car.
  • Build on local strengths and add economic value locally - encourage local businesses to supply to local retailers and markets to help the local economy whilst reducing environmental impacts.
  • Increase opportunities for local employment, education and training, especially for those in most need.
  • Strengthen local community and cultural identity - local distinctiveness should be valued. The variety of customs, healthy food and drink, landscapes, wildlife, buildings and building materials found across the South West are what makes the region so special.

Sustainable Community Strategies (SCS) emerged from work in the 1990s arising from the Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992. They became a useful means of introducing sustainable development as an over-arching theme for how local authorities worked towards a more sustainable future. However a change of Government in 2010 meant the influence of these strategies was in danger of being lost as a consequence of the new Coalition Government's objective to reduce the performance management that central government placed on local government. See "What about Sustainable Community Strategies?" in the section below.

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What about Sustainable Community Strategies?

Note. This article is intended to provide background on how Sustainable Community Strategies came about and the importance that they can have for delivering more sustainable outcomes.

During the 1990s Local Agenda 21 (LA21) formed the basis for actions by communities towards achieving local sustainability. Local Agenda 21 originated from the Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992 and was the process of drawing up and implementing local sustainable development plans, with each local authority working in partnership with all sectors in the local community to achieve this.

The Local Government Act 2000 placed local authorities under a duty to prepare a (Sustainable) Community Strategy. A Community Strategy should enhance the quality of life of local communities through action to improve the economic, social and environmental well being of an area and its inhabitants. It should provide a means of joining-up services and tackling cross-cutting issues in a coherent and integrated way. The Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) has a significant role in developing the Community Strategy.

Since 2008 (following the first pilots announced in October 2004) Local Area Agreements (LAAs) struck the deal between central Government, local authorities and major LSP delivery partners in an area. LAAs sought to provide local authorities and partners with the flexibility and capacity to deliver the best solutions for their areas through a reformed relationship between central and local government.

An objective of LAAs was to give greater local autonomy over how money was spent to meet local needs and deliver action on local priorities alongside Sustainable Community Strategies. In the South West the Government Office for the South West (abolished by the Coalition Government formed in 2010) was responsible for overseeing, negotiating and monitoring LAAs, as well as providing comprehensive advice and support.

The Coalition Government formed in May 2010 announced that it would implement a fundamental shift in power from Westminster to people by promoting decentralisation and democratic engagement and give new powers to local councils, communities, neighbourhoods and individuals. In October 2010 the Coalition Government handed over full control of all current Local Area Agreements to Local Authorities allowing them to drop any targets that they wish.

The Coalition Government also announced that the National Indicator Set (of performance targets) would be replaced with a single, comprehensive list of all data (the "single data list") that the Government expect local government to provide to central government with the aim of making data requirements transparent and to reduce the amount of data required and reported upon from April 2011.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) launched by the Government in March 2012 sets out the Government's planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. The NPPF is also intended to provide a framework within which local people and their accountable councils can produce their own distinctive local and neighbourhood plans, which reflect the needs and priorities of their communities. The NPPF states that it must be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans, and is a material consideration in planning decisions.

Under the NPPF a core strategy (also known as the Local Plan) remains at the heart of the planning system. It should act as the spatial vision of the Sustainable Community Strategy and it should aim to cover a wide range of policies and programmes.

With all these constant changes it has become increasingly difficult to foresee what the future might be for Sustainable Community Strategies. However, Sustainable Community Strategies almost certainly will continue to have a key role for how local authorities develop all other policies (e.g. core strategies for spatial planning) that they are expected to implement. An important factor in the production of a Sustainable Community Strategy is that it is produced in consultation and with the involvement of the local community. Setting out a long term plan for the area they cover, an SCS can therefore provide a more sustainable sense of direction for local authorities and the communities they represent.

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Bath Farmers' Market - the UK's first

 Greener Lifestyles  

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"think global, act local"