He believes local authorities have a vital role to play in ensuring more is being done at the grassroots to police the environment and make the best use of our limited resources.

Mr Benn was speaking prior to the annual conference of the Local Government Association at the launch of a new initiative between the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs and local authorities: the Defra – Local Government Joint Environmental Prospectus.

The Government believes this shows how local authorities can tackle climate change, protect the natural environment and resources, break the link between waste and the economy; and improve the local environment.

It sets out ten key questions which local leaders and chief executives can use to challenge their councils to ensure environment issues play a major part throughout local government services.

Mr Benn said: “Nothing is of greater importance to all of us today than the environment and the future of our planet. As councils and national governments, we need to work together with citizens and businesses to provide a clean and green local environment and make sure that we are all tackling climate change and making best use of the world’s limited resources.’

At the conference, Mr Benn also announced the publication for comment of Defra’s proposed indicators for the new Local Government Performance Framework. Several of the 13 indicators are new, and reflect the Government’s priorities for local government, including climate change.

Mr Benn said Defra was keen to listen to ‘on the ground’ experience to help ensure the proposals were the right ones.

The proposed indicators and how to comment on them can be found http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/localgovindicators/index.htm

More details about the Joint Environmental Prospectus can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/delivery/landscape/local/index.htm

Kath Grant

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