Happiness and Well-Being
: The Duties and Powers of Local Government to Reduce Carbon Emissions and Fuel Poverty

  • David Haygarth

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

The thesis focuses on Local Government duties and powers for enabling energy and sustainability projects in England and Wales. It establishes a theoretical understanding for well-being in international law, European law and a pragmatic approach on how legal and policy instruments should be interpreted when assessing obligations for energy and sustainability. It then illustrates how various objectives are currently delivered across Europe. This leads to a theoretical and legal context for council members and officers working in local government with both mandatory duties and permitted powers available to advance the carbon emissions and fuel poverty agenda in their communities. The thesis evaluates the implications of ultra vires and judicial review on local authority behaviour in hand with the Local Government Act 1999 (Best Value) and suggests the combination has restricted positive action by the majority of local authorities in areas crucial to the well-being of many vulnerable residents. Compounding this, the subsequent Local Government Act 2000 (Powers of Well-Being) is currently underused due to a lack of legal certainty about their interpretation or realisation of their potential to address substantive community issues. To help counter the issue the thesis provides a theoretical context and working definition for energy and sustainability in local government which aligns Aristotelian thought and the principles of sustainable development. Then a practical example illustrates how energy and sustainability projects could be used to achieve wider community well-being. The thesis concludes by offering local government is under an implied duty to promote well-being and it should not defer actions on the grounds of the absence of a mandatory duty in the area. It must look to its history in public health reform in order to recognise the substantive issues of the day involving energy and poverty. It must become more outward looking, exploratory and adventurous in scope and find the political will to address the issues and the moral courage to direct resources to long term solutions.
Date of AwardJun 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Nottingham Trent University

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