Islington Council is introducing a £96-a-year surcharge on residential parking permits for diesel vehicles in a bid to improve air quality.

The London borough said diesel vehicles can emit up to four times more nitrogen oxides than petrol vehicles and 20 times more particulate matter linked to cancer, heart and lung damage.

Research from the World Health Organisation also shows that exposure to diesel fumes can cause a small but significant increase in the risk of lung cancer.

Haringey Council is on track to hit a target of reducing its carbon emissions by 40 per cent by April 2015 after cutting CO2 by almost a third since 2006-07.

The London borough's Annual Carbon Report shows CO2 output has fallen by 11 per cent in the last year alone. Haringey says it is the only local authority in the country to publish its progress on tackling climate change.

Since 2006-07, carbon has fallen by 32.7 per cent, the equivalent of taking 4,200 cars off the road.

Bristol has secured £1m to pilot the use of new hybrid buses that automatically switch from diesel to electric in low-emission zones.

The Government grant was announced by transport minister Baroness Kramer to coincide with the start of Bristol's year as European Green Capital.

A £10m fund has been launched to get locally owned renewable energy schemes off the ground.

The Urban Community Energy Fund will offer grants of up to £20,000 or loans of up to £130,000.

Launching the fund, energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey said communities will be able to benefit by creating "power hubs" where solar panels installed on local buildings or anaerobic digestion plants use local waste save whole areas money.

A Wales Audit Office report warning that council environmental health services are reaching a tipping point as austerity bites is a "stark warning" for the future, according to the Welsh Local Government Association.

The report, Delivering with Less, says councils are currently finding ways to meet most of their statutory environmental health duties but spending is not protected and services are "at risk of becoming unsustainable".

Derbyshire County Council has approved a £23m plan to switch to energy efficient LED street lighting.

More than 68,000 street lights will have their bulb, light fitting and shade replaced with new LED fittings. At the same time, over 22,000 older lamp posts will be replaced.

The council will borrow the funding, which will be paid back over 20 years. However, the authority believes the investment could be paid back in just over eight years due to reductions in energy and maintenance costs.

Using incentives and rewards to alter households' behaviour is nearly twice as effective as adopting a "stick" approach to force people to recycle, according to new research.

Freedom of Information requests by Greenredeem, which provides green rewards programmes, found that local authorities with incentive programmes had dry recycling rates of 19.18 per cent in 2012-13. This is compared with a rate of 11.91 per cent for those with compulsory recycling.

Scotland's councils could face statutory recycling targets after more than two-thirds failed to meet a goal of recycling at least 50 per cent of household waste in 2013.

Statistics from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency show the amount of waste generated has continued to fall, dropping from 2.6m tonnes in 2011 to 2.41m tonnes last year.

Meanwhile, the overall recycling rate has increased from 40.1 per cent to 42.2 per cent.

However, only nine of Scotland's 32 local authorities have beaten the 50 per cent mark.

Cumbria County Council has launched a three-year, £7.6m project to replace around 11,500 high-wattage street lights with energy efficient LEDs.

The council has seen its electricity bill for street lighting rise from £1.75m in 2011-12 to £2.1m in 2013-14 - and prices are set to continue climbing. By replacing older lights, it expects to save £140,000 in the first year, rising to £290,000 in year two and £430,000 in the final year of the scheme.

Devon County Council is supporting a project that will see 30 community projects receive funding to generate, own and save energy.

The initiative, which has been launched by non-profit sustainable energy group Regen SW, will provide grants of up to £5,000 to pay for start-up assistance, covering anything from legal fees to community engagement. The scheme is part of a national programme being funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, with the county council providing additional support in Devon. 

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