Milton Keynes - Engaging citizens with a multiplicity of digital tools
Assessment of the territories’ climate action
Association Climate Chance (Climate Chance)
Since 2015, the Climate Chance Association has been involved in the mobilization in the fight against climate change. It is the only international association that proposes to bring together on an equal footing all the non-State actors recognized by the UN. In order to strengthen their action and to give credibility to the climate stabilization scenarios, the Climate Chance Association launched in 2018 a Global Observatory of Non-State Climate Action, which aims to explain the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions, by crossing national public policies, with sectoral dynamics, private actors’ strategies, local public policies, and actions undertaken by the actors of the territory. In 2019, in order to analyse the coherence of local public policies, Climat Chance proposes 13 new case studies of cities and regions. Here is the case of Milton Keynes, the famous and controversial new town in Buckinghamshire, founded in 1967.
To download : climate-chance-2019-local-action-book-2019-synthesis-report-on-climate-action-by-local-and-subnational-governments.pdf (1.6 MiB)
Governance and integration of climate policies
Milton Keynes is pursuing the ambitious goal of becoming « the greenest city in the world ", as set out in their 2019 - 2050 Sustainability Strategy. The strategy is a short update of the 2014 Imagine MK2050 Strategy action plan, a roadmap for reducing energy consumption compiling the contributions of several actors (academics, private actors, citizens and communities) and the result of the IMAGINE initiative funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), of which Milton Keynes was one of the 10 pilot cities. Despite the role given to local authorities in the Climate Change Act 2008, UK legislation does not require local governments to produce action plans or emissions inventories. However, major cities are required to produce an energy efficiency plan supported by the Energy Saving Trust. EST is a government-funded initiative since 1992 to promote efficiency and lower energy demand from households, businesses and local authorities.
Monitoring and evaluation of climate policy
Despite relatively low population growth (about 2.7%), total domestic emissions in Milton Keynes decreased by 87.7 ktCO2 (18%) between 2012 and 2014 to 400 ktCO2. Similarly since 2005, per capita emissions have declined faster than total emissions, by 32% from 7.8 to 5.3 tonnes per person in 2014 (MK, 2018). Total domestic emissions projections for 2020 are set at 360 ktCO2. The city aims at carbon neutrality by 2030 mainly through energy efficiency and mobility.
Energy efficiency - Empowering citizens with special attention to vulnerable households
According to national legislation 1 Milton Keynes is required to report every 2 years on its progress in residential energy efficiency, with a particular focus on homes away from the main gas network, covering 90% of homes. These reports are to include energy mapping of the city, a review of relevant policies and plans, and recommendations to Council for more effective action. The last progress report in 2017 shows that 6% of households (6,500) were still considered to be in fuel poverty, but 2/3 of the residential cavity wall dwellings (or 76% of the dwellings in MK) were insulated. To implement further renovations a new company, Your MK, has been set up as a partnership between Milton Keynes Town Council and Mears Group PLC. Your MK, is currently offering repairs and maintenance to the municipality’s housing stock (HECA, 2017). To further address fuel poverty, the council is funding Green Star Energy Cosy Homes, which helps the most vulnerable citizens by providing consultancy, support services, assessment of improvements and grants for energy efficiency measures. Milton Keynes plans to rely on private financing for the renovation of the poorest of its housing estates. Recently, MK has acted as an interface between citizens and stakeholders to facilitate energy efficiency projects through various platforms such as « Efficient Houses Tours » offering tours to the public, and a free hotline, « Keep Warm MK ". Communication Action Platform for Energy CAPE, is the flagship project of a multi-stakeholder partnership between the city council and various private and academic actors. It aims to reduce residents’ energy bills and building emissions by developing an interactive website that allows individuals and communities to assess their energy use. It provides users with data and information on their energy choices using satellite imagery. The first field test took place in 2017 in the Lake Estates District to substitute LEDs for light bulbs (Community Action :MK, 2017).
Mobility - A preference for soft incentives rather than restrictions
Built in 1967, Milton Keynes is a recent city designed for the automobile, making it difficult to move towards sustainable mobility. The Living Streets Community Project, funded by the EU Life programme, is a first step towards restricting cars and changing habits. The project temporarily transforms streets into socialising spaces for families. The municipality has had to deal with opposition from local residents: meetings have been organised with local clubs, residents’ associations, to discuss common goals and benefits of the « red lanes » for walking and cycling, the programme, « Beat the Street » supported by the British government, has « lightened » the city by giving points to residents as they walk, run or cycle. Between 2015 and 2017, Milton Keynes was one of five European cities in the CitiZEN consortium, coordinated by Energy Cities. The aim of the project, funded by the « Europe for Citizens » programme, is to create a permanent working group on mobility, whose most recent achievements are highlighted :
The bus electrification plan has been successful, and in 2016 Milton Keynes obtained a grant from the government to increase its fleet by 11 additional electric buses ;
Self-driving small pods (tested in Milton Keynes as part of the « Catapult Transport Systems » mobility research programme;
The MK : Smart project created the MotionMap application providing citizens with information on available parking spaces, congestion and public transport. Concluded in 2017, the project was subsequently followed by CityLabs - a collaborative platform between SMEs, academia and industry (ERDF, The Open University, ZTE and Fronesys) to develop new digital products and services.
Finally, MK received £9,000,000 in 2016 from a national funding programme from the Department of Transport, « Go Ultra Low City Scheme », aimed at boosting the development of electric cars.
MK has created the Electric Vehicle Experience Centre - a one-stop shop offering advice and short-term vehicle hire to consumers - which has opened 20,000 free parking spaces for electric vehicles, set up recharging centres and developed priority bus routes. MK now has more than 250 recharging stations and 70 rapid recharges.
Adaptation - Anticipating and responding to water shortages
POWER (Political and sOcial awareness on Water EnviRonmental challenges) is a 4-year Horizon2020 project coordinated with the University of Montfort (2015/2019) in 4 European cities. In Milton Keynes the project focuses on water management. POWER has set up a « Digital Social Platform » where participants will be able to share their opinions, progress and good practices, and compare themselves with their peers. The aim is, through the network effect, to empower citizens to respond to climate change.
The MK communities now have their own platform, the Milton Keynes Water Community, where information, competitions and events are shared.
1 The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 requires all 326 local authorities in England to submit a report to the Secretary of State setting out the energy saving measures adopted to improve the energy efficiency of the housing stock in their area.