Government money should not be used to force councils into weekly bin collections, the head of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) has said following the announcement of a new £5m "incentives" fund.

The fund, unveiled by local government secretary Eric Pickles, will help councils to offer perks such as shopping vouchers and loyalty rewards to households who recycle - but only if they provide weekly collections.

Pickles claimed the move sends a clear message to "town hall bin barons".

Thousands of homes and public buildings across the capital are being made more energy efficient after London mayor Boris Johnson announced a £11.5m expansion of his retrofit programme.

Since 2008, the scheme has updated more than 400,000 homes and over 350 public buildings including schools, hospitals, libraries and town halls. Low carbon technologies including LED lighting, new boilers, insulation, and the installation of heat and power networks, solar panels and double glazing, have already helped to save tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon a year. 

Waste management firm Veolia has launched a legal challenge to local government secretary Eric Pickles's decision to refuse planning permission for a recycling and energy recovery facility at New Barnfield, Hatfield.

Permission was originally awarded by Hertfordshire County Council in October 2012 after a lengthy procurement process to find an alternative method of disposing of residual waste left after recycling and composting.

Local authorities are being urged to ban the use of paper sky lanterns on council-owned land, with the RSPCA warning that they can have deadly consequences for animals.

More than 200,000 sky lanterns, also known as Chinese lanterns or Kongming lanterns, are sold in the UK every year. They are paper-covered wire or bamboo frames with a flame suspended beneath. They can drift for miles once released and fall to the ground once the flame is extinguished.

A new £20m fund has opened to help local authorities and community groups in Scotland set up low carbon energy pilot projects in their areas.

The Local Energy Challenge Fund will support the Scottish Government's aim of having 500MW of locally owned renewables by 2020. The Fraser of Allander Institute estimates this would be worth up to £2.2bn over the lifetime of associated projects.

Ten local authorities including Devon County Council and Exeter City Council have joined forces with utilities company E.On for a £9m scheme to improve the energy efficiency of homes.

The CosyDevon project will offer free or subsidised insulation and heating measures, such as new gas boilers, for up to 7,000 properties.

Local authorities have been urged to put trees and woodland at the heart of flood protection plans, with a new report arguing they offer a sustainable, low maintenance way to reduce risk.

The Woodland Trust study points to research from the University of Manchester showing trees can reduce surface water runoff by up to 80 per cent compared with asphalt. Combined with other measures in an urban drainage system, they should have a major role in reducing flood risk from new developments, it argues.  

A £1m fund to help local authorities, registered social landlords, community groups and charities advise vulnerable households on reducing their energy bills has been launched by climate change secretary Ed Davey.

Organisations are being invited to bid for money from the Big Energy Saving Network to help run projects this autumn and winter.

Schemes can cover advice on switching tariffs, the different payment methods available and information on Government initiatives to help lower bills, such as the Energy Company Obligation.

Eric Pickles's decision to block plans for a solar farm in Suffolk has been struck down by the High Court, with a judge describing the local government secretary's reasoning as fatally flawed.

Pickles overturned the Planning Inspectorate's recommendation to grant consent for Lark Energy's proposed 24MW solar farm at a former WWII airfield in Ellough in October 2013.

Local government secretary Eric Pickles has backed a petition calling on South Gloucestershire Council to drop its annual fee for collecting garden waste bins, saying authorities should not be introducing "stealth taxes".

Around 6,000 people have signed the petition urging the council to reconsider the £36 charge.

In a reply to Chris Skidmore MP, who presented the petition to parliament, Pickles said: "Councils should not be introducing stealth taxes by imposing new charges on local residents."

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