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.

Bolton Council has become the latest authority to sign up to the Local Government Association's Climate Local commitment.

The initiative encourages councils to commit to take local action to reduce carbon emissions and protect residents and services from the effects of climate change.

The council and Bolton's Cleaner Greener Partnership have now drawn up a list of commitments covering renewable energy, fuel poverty and sustainable transport.

Birmingham City Council has drawn up proposals to reshape the role of parks, woodlands and other green spaces in the city's wider green agenda.

The Green Living Spaces Plan, which is subject to approval by the authority's cabinet, would introduce seven principles and introduce new ways of working to make sure parks act as "vital defences" against climate change.