Guidance for local authorities on energy, climate and peak oil

Developing a standard methodology for an area-based resilience strategy

Project duration: February 2011 to September 2011

The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) developed guidance for Bristol City Council to assist local authority officers involved in the development or assessment of local area-based programmes or plans.

The rationale for the work came from Bristol City Council’s participation in the Local Carbon Framework Pilot Programme and the Bristol Climate Change and Energy Security Framework (BCCESF), adopted by Bristol City Council in February 2010; this sets out actions to progress the City’s carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction targets (40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050), adapt to the impacts of climate change and improve its long term energy resilience.

DECC ran the pilot programme with nine local authority areas to co-design a series of Local Carbon Frameworks to identify what works at differing spatial levels and to develop templates for action on carbon by all local authorities (download the government evaluation for further details).

Area-based studies require local authority officers to make informed assessments using a multidisciplinary approach, which in turn requires access to succinct and targeted data sources. Focusing on the use and supply of energy in terms of electricity, heating and cooling, the guidance provides a basic methodology and reference point to help establish an evidence base. This in turn enables the carbon saving, climate adaptation and peak oil resilience opportunities presented by area-based plans to be fully realised.

The guidance details how to assess a local area and maximise any opportunities where further action may be necessary or could be taken.

Some examples of what is assessed:

  • What national and local policies are applicable in this area?
  • What is the current energy demand in the area and how could it be reduced?
  • What opportunities are there for sustainable energy?
  • Which areas are vulnerable to the potential future impacts of climate change?
  • What will the socio-economic impact of peak-oil be in this area, who is most vulnerable and what opportunities are there for improvement and resilience?

Plans produced using the methodology should summarise the opportunities and suggestions for area-based delivery of policy such as for land-use definition, economic potential or regeneration. CSE completed a case-study using this framework for Avonmouth and Severnside, which can be downloaded and examined as an example in conjunction with the guidance report.

CSE has a combination of technical skills, research expertise and strategy experience which meant we were well placed to deliver this study. In particular, we have significant expertise in sustainable energy resource assessments and heat mapping. Studies for Bristol, Plymouth, five West Sussex authorities and Teignbridge (which also included a climate change vulnerability assessment) were successful in incorporating sustainable energy objectives into core strategies. We have also pioneered a new approach to resource mapping through interactive, web-based heat maps. Those we have produced for RegenSW and the GLA can be viewed at and Since this project was completed, we have produced the National Heat Map for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This new web application, based on high resolution maps of heat demand, supports the planning and deployment of local, low-carbon projects in England.

Image: flickr, Ian Hayhurst, replicated under a Creative Commons license.

For further information contact:

Martin Holley | 0117 934 1419

Relevant downloads and links:

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