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.

Birmingham City Council has installed charging points for electric vehicles at 18 locations as it looks ensure essential infrastructure is in place to make the use of low-emission cars as easy as possible.

A total of 36 Evolt charging points from APT Technologies have been installed by E.ON Energy with funding from the Government's Plugged-In Midlands scheme. The initiative is expected to create a regional network of more than 500 charging points.

Hackney Council has unveiled plans to set up a green energy cooperative that will give residents the chance to back local power generation and socially responsible investments.

The project is being managed by Hackney Energy, a partnership between the borough and Repower London, a charity that aims to reduce fuel poverty.

Under the scheme, Hackney residents will be able to buy shares in solar panel installations that will provide renewable power in their area. Fundraising for the panels will start soon, with the installation expected to take place in spring.

The Welsh Government is to invest an extra £11.5m to extend an initiative that supports councils in increasing recycling rates.

The funding means the Collaborative Change Programme, which provides local authorities with specialist advice on achieving recycling targets within their financial means, will now run until at least the end of 2015-16.

The Welsh Government will provide £3.5m in funding this year, increasing to £4m each year from 2014-15.

London mayor Boris Johnson has been urged to step up efforts to tackle air pollution in the capital after the Clean Air in London Campaign confirmed that Oxford Street breached its nitrogen dioxide hourly legal limit for the whole of 2014 in just five days.

The London Air Quality Network's air pollution sensor on Oxford Street is the first monitoring station in the capital to breach its limit so far this year.

Birmingham City Council is planning to extend its Green Bridge Supply Chain Programme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) after being offered £7.5m from the European Regional Development Fund.

The competition is designed to help companies diversify into green areas through the development of new markets, products and skills.

It is being run between the council and six local enterprise partnerships covering Greater Birmingham and Solihull, the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, and the Marches.

Two thousand hectares of new woodland will be created through the planting of four million trees as part of a £30m Government investment in the next financial year.

The investment will also protect or improve another 200,000 hectares of existing woodland.

The move is designed to support landowners including local authorities, charities and businesses in their commitments to plant and maintain woodland.

Westminster City Council has installed solar-powered bins that text refuse collectors when 80 per cent full.

The authority hopes the four bins, which use infrared sensors to detect how full they are and send alerts using a SIM card-driven app, will cut collections by 70 per cent and reduce the associated fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80 per cent.

The bins in Belgrave Square, Berkeley Square, Ennismore Gardens and Trevor Place also automatically compact rubbish, giving them a capacity around eight times that of a normal bin.

Birmingham City Council has been re-elected to chair the Eurocities environment forum, which brings together 130 cities from 35 countries to share knowledge on green issues, days after publishing its carbon roadmap.

It will be second consecutive year that Birmingham has chaired the forum. The city was a founding member of Eurocities in 1986, along with Barcelona, Frankfurt, Lyon, Milan and Rotterdam.