In Focus: Supporting Local Authorities on their journey to net zero
Infra Bank in Focus
Supporting Local Authorities on their journey to net zero
07 July 2023
By Dan Mansfield, Transport Director, Local Authority Advisory and Lending
Three hundred Local Authorities have declared a climate emergency, and two-thirds want to reach net zero by 2030 – ahead of the UK government 2050 target. Dan Mansfield talks about what the Bank is doing to help.
Three hundred Local Authorities have declared a climate emergency, and two-thirds want to reach net zero by 2030 – ahead of the UK government 2050 target.i
That’s why in September 2022, the Bank announced the start of its Local Authority Advisory function to help with funding and financing models for complex infrastructure projects. Alongside the £4bn of capital we have available to local authorities, our advisory service is a key part of our mandate to support the UK’s transition to net zero and drive up regional and local economic growth, creating good jobs in the process. The Bank is working in tandem with local authority project teams to develop their commercial and financial options, along with other funding considerations, and to consider the value of public-private partnerships to accelerate progress.
To start our new function, we worked with three local authorities - Transport for Greater Manchester, Bristol City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority - as they embarked on ambitious projects. It’s a good time to share what we learned and how it has shaped our priorities for our first year.
Following the pilot, Bristol City Council is considering how to make the city’s existing assets and built environment work for them and provide, in our view, an exemplar for how local authorities can deliver their own ambitious energy-centric projects. Manchester’s transport team are using their franchising powers to deliver investment in zero emission bus technology and ensure they deliver a financially efficient transition from diesel. As more authorities consider how to make franchising work for them, Manchester’s early move in this direction offers a model to learn from. West Yorkshire are exploring financial and commercial models to deliver a place-centric mass transport system for their region. Again, with mass transport a key consideration for many authorities, West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s experience offers a lot of useful insight.
Our involvement across the three projects suggested that the Local Authorities were experiencing a combination of challenges: resourcing constraints; issues with introducing new technology alongside existing infrastructure; developing innovative, new funding models; and how to maximise the value of partnerships with the private sector.
The Bank has already applied the learnings from the pilots in various ways:
- Firstly, we have undertaken several engagements with other local authorities grappling with the same issues and we are sharing our learning directly with them. For example, we have worked with Transport for Wales in relation to Zero Emission Buses and franchising, and with Glasgow City Council on the funding and financing of the Clyde Metro mass transit project.
- Secondly, we have been working with government departments like the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to structure our involvement in their funding programmes, such as the Green Heat Network Fund, to further support local authorities. We have also partnered with the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles to work with local authorities seeking to leverage the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure grant.
- Finally, we have combined our learnings in these pilots with being a knowledge partner for the Local Low Carbon Accelerator, established by members of the Prime Minister’s Business Council, to deepen our understanding of the issues and potential solutions that we can offer alongside the private sector in areas such as electric vehicle charging, zero emission buses and building retrofit and decarbonisation.
What’s next for our Local Authority Advisory team?
We are working on a pipeline of projects across all four nations including: a regeneration scheme with Perth and Kinross Council; further work on Zero Emission buses with South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority; a new station and regeneration project with Bradford Council; energy efficiency measures with Leeds City Council; and heat networks with Belfast City Council. The map below shows the other projects and authorities the team has worked with since concluding the pilots.
The Bank also continues its engagement with central government departments to ensure that we are ready to assist with new programmes that focus on our key investment sectors. We are open to discussing any venture with local authorities which aligns with the Bank’s overall mandate to support infrastructure projects which tackle climate change and support regional and local economic growth. We look forward to working with more local authorities as we continue to build out our advisory function and support the vital contribution that local authorities have in the journey to net zero.
Find out more about the support we can offer with your infrastructure project.