Twenty-eight local authorities are to share £1m in Government funding to improve air quality by cutting nitrogen dioxide levels associated with road traffic.  

More than 30 projects across England will receive between £10,000 and £60,000 under the 2013-14 allocation of the Air Quality Grant Programme.

They include a scheme to introduce 20mph zones in Cambridge, which is receiving £18,950, and an £21,305 initiative to encourage cycling in Chichester. In North Hertfordshire, a £23,500 grant will be used for a feasibility study into changing road layouts and HGV routes.

Southampton City Council has awarded an initial £30m contract to make energy efficiency improvements to more than 2,000 council properties over the next 18 months to outsourcing giant Mitie.

The deal is one of the largest contracts ever awarded under the Government's Green Deal and Energy Companies Obligation (ECO).

Durham County Council plans to establish a social enterprise to help local residents and other stakeholders to invest a £645,000 windfall from the construction of a biomass plant.

The money was set aside as a community-based fund by energy firm Dalkia after it built the plant in Chilton. The cash can only be spent on green measures that will reduce household energy costs in the town.

The council said that the social enterprise will maximise the impact of the cash because it will be able access additional funding and tax breaks not available to the authority.

Plymouth City Council has awarded 14 contracts worth a total of £527,000 to install solar PV panels to civic buildings.

The contracts represent the second phase of a multimillion pound contract to reduce energy costs while building up Plymouth's green skills base through apprenticeships and new employment opportunities.

Since the first solar arrays were installed in February 2013, they have generated more than 67 megawatt hours, enough to power 18 of the city's homes for a year.

Waste heat from London Underground tunnels will be used to warm homes and cut domestic fuel bills in Islington under a new partnership between the borough, the mayor of London, Transport for London and UK Power Networks.

The project, which is the first of its kind in Europe, will harness heat from a Northern Line ventilation shaft, along with a UK Power Networks electricity substation, to provide heating for at least 500 properties.

Local authorities in Wales have met the principality's first statutory recycling target with just over 52 per cent of municipal waste reused, recycled or composted in 2012-13.  

There were 1.55m tonnes of municipal waste produced in Wales during the year, according to the Office for National Statistics. The figures exclude abandoned vehicles.

The agency noted that the generation of waste has been steadily declining since 2004-05, when it peaked at 1.9m tonnes, and 2012-13's figure was similar to the amount produced in 1998-99.

Midlothian Council's use of solar power has seen it top the Scottish National Renewables League 2012-13.

The council was topped the category for solar photovoltaic power and heat pumps. It committed £108m to the first phase of a housing development that delivered 864 new council homes fitted with renewable technologies.

A second phase worth £63m will bring the total number of homes delivered to 1,500.

A joint venture between Stoke City Council and construction firm Kier has launched a training programme to give maintenance staff the skills to retrofit its properties with eco-friendly measures.

Kier Stoke has teamed up with the Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE) to give 12 technicians the opportunity to achieve the Diploma in Advanced Retrofit.

International targets to reduce CO2 and limit climate change will be "simply unattainable" without the involvement of local government, the European Union's Committee of the Regions has said.

The CoR, which comprises 353 members from 28 EU states, has urged the EU to be more ambitious in its targets for reducing carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency.

But, it added, local authorities have a critical role in implementing environmental policy and mitigating the effects of climate change, and must therefore be involved in international negotiations on cutting CO2.

A £6m grant programme has been launched to help local authorities in England and Wales develop heating and cooling networks.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change, which will run the fund through its Heat Networks Delivery Unit, said that in order to secure funding, councils will have to put forward ambitious and innovative proposals for networks that draw as much heat as possible from renewable, sustainable or recoverable sources.

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