Catalytic Action 5: Low Carbon Communities

The Executive of Manchester City Council- in effect the “Cabinet” of the 96 seat elected body, has recently accepted a report called the “Call to Action.”

A London-based consultancy called “Beyond Green” wrote the report, (for £32,000 plus expenses), which commits the Council to nine “catalytic actions.”

They are:

  1. World-leading neighbourhood regeneration

  2. Retrofitting Manchester’s civic heritage

  3. A business alliance for climate change

  4. Low carbon energy infrastructure

  5. Low Carbon Communities

  6. A climate-ready Local Development Framework

  7. The Manchester Prize

  8. Greening the City: i-Trees

  9. A green airport

We here at MCFly Towers think that these sorts of things go better with consultation. While we are waiting for the Council to announce just what it is going to do on this question, we will be posting one “catalytic action” per day on the MCFly blog, with a brief analysis. We invite the people of Manchester (and heck, why not beyond) to comment on these. We will pass on your comments to the Council.

That’s not to say the other parts of the report aren’t worthy of comment too- it’s just that we have to start somewhere, and here is as good a place as any…

Low Carbon Communities

“The City Council will encourage neighbourhood or community groups to identify opportunities across the city in which to pilot transformational Low Carbon Communities.

“This will demonstrate how existing neighbourhoods can combat climate change, improve their local environment, increase social cohesion and cut energy costs and fuel poverty through a comprehensive but affordable package of action to reduce their carbon footprint. The project could include:

  • “Creating,on a self-financing basis, a community renewable energy supply in which residents own a stake and benefit from the sale of surplus energy via the grid;
  • “Helping homeowners to release equity in their homes based on savings on future energy bills to fund retrofitting improvements in energy efficiency, and procuring improvements on a co-ordinated basis to realise purchasing power;
  • “Preparing a green travel plan for the community and facilitating car-share schemes, public realm improvements and other measures to encourage more sustainable travel patterns;


“Engaging local people in wider sustainable regeneration of their choosing – for example using underused open space for food production, setting up social enterprises for land management and community composting, or establishing organic box schemes; and larger-scale interventions for example through the redevelopment or reuse of under-utilised buildings to enhance the physical and social character of the area and release additional value for community uses.

“In order to further define and scope the concept of Low Carbon Communities and establish a framework of support within the city, the City Council will organise as part of the consultation programme a symposium on neighbourhood climate change action involving if possible partners such as the Carbon Trust, Co-operative and United Utilities.”

Well, everyone and their mother is calling for Low Carbon Communities. It’s the new Apple Pie. There’s a Low Carbon Communities Network, the next Friends of the Earth campaign- much delayed frankly- is about cuddling up to councils and is called “Low Carbon Communities”. So Beyond Green have got the branding right…

“the City Council will organise as part of the consultation programme”

And what consultation programme would that be then? It says “the”, meaning applying to the whole Call to Action. If it were specifically about this catalytic action, it would be “a” consultation programme. The Council is basically breaking its promise to have a consultation process, and then expects people to continue to trust it. Extraordinary. Extraordinary that the various groups in Manchester are unable to rouse themselves to any sort of activity about this. (“Extraordinary” is a charitable description, actually)

And does the council here think of consulting with the great unwashed, the people who pay their council taxes? No, it consults with government quangos and private business. Genius.


About dwighttowers

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