Twenty-four local authorities in England and Wales have been awarded £2.1m to support the development of low carbon heat networks.

The projects, which are the latest round of successful bidders for funding from the Government's Heat Networks Delivery Unit, will use a range of green technologies, including energy from waste and heat recovered from industry.

There are currently around 2,000 heat networks in the UK, supplying 200,000 homes and 1,500 commercial and public buildings. Another 150 schemes are under development.

The extra £140m announced in the Budget for immediate repair and maintenance work on damaged flood defences is "far too little", Greenpeace UK has said.

Chancellor George Osborne said he had decided to allocate the additional funding, alongside a £200m pot to help local authorities repair damaged roads, after a winter of "exceptionally poor weather".

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire's £113m City Deal will develop the UK's first large-scale geothermal district heat network.

The £20m project will provide power to businesses and up to 1,000 homes in the centre of Stoke.

The City Deal, which is called Powerhouse Central, will also create a new smart energy network demonstrator project at Keele University to test cutting-edge energy and carbon reduction technologies.

In addition, energy from the Four Ashes waste plant in South Staffordshire and a new power station at Meaford will be used to supply local businesses.

More than 50 organisations have urged local government secretary Eric Pickles not to scrap a planning rule giving councils the power to demand that new housing uses renewable power and has higher energy standards than national Building Regulations.

In an open letter, bodies including the Renewable Energy Association (REA), the Town & Country Planning Association and Friends of the Earth argue that the so-called Merton Rule is the only policy driver for including renewables in new buildings until full zero carbon standards are introduced in 2016.

Landfill tax has achieved its purpose and should be frozen immediately, council chiefs have told the Chancellor.

The Local Government Association is urging George Osborne to use the Budget to peg the tax at its current level of £72 per tonne.

In addition, it wants revenues redistributed to local taxpayers for investment in recycling schemes, rather than the money being kept by the Treasury.

Welsh local authorities pushed recycling rates to the highest level in the UK between July and September at 57 per cent, according to new figures.

Statistics compiled by the Welsh Government put recycling, reuse and composting rates at 66 per cent in Monmouthshire, 62 per cent in Pembrokeshire and Denbighshire, and 60 per cent in Bridgend and Caerphilly.

Across Wales, the amount of black bin waste collected per person fell by six per cent year-on-year to 52kg.

An 11-tonne pile of rubbish was created in Sutton high street as part of an anti-litter campaign designed to change people's behaviour and save council tax payers money.

The pile, which reached 10 feet, illustrated how much rubbish has to be cleared from the borough's streets in a single day. Sutton Council said that clearing up litter costs £4m a year - enough to run the library service for a year or provide 210 residential care places for the elderly.

Glasgow City Council has become the first local authority to take out a Green Loan from the Government-backed UK Green Investment Bank to support a switch to low-energy street lighting.

The loans are available to councils at fixed-rates over a period up to 20 years and are specifically designed to back public sector energy efficiency projects.

Glasgow will use the funding to convert its 70,000 street lights to LEDs.

Twenty-six local authorities have been awarded £1.9m to develop a range of low carbon heat networks for local homes and businesses.

The councils will receive grants of between £15,000 and £250,000 as part of the first wave of successful bids under the Government's Heat Networks Delivery.

They will also receive commercial and technical advice, including help to develop business plans to attract private sector investment.

The London Borough of Haringey and Durham University have launched a joint research programme to identify the barriers to low carbon economic development and how they can support greener business activity.

Haringey, which was the first major local authority in England to commit to cutting local CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 while also tackling inequality and increasing prosperity, will invest £90,000 in the one-year pilot scheme.

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