The government is urging residents to use council web services to help cut CO2 emissions.
Residents who use the internet to contact their local council could help save the equivalent of millions of air miles in carbon emissions, according to new research issued today by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
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The department commissioned an independent study report by environmental specialists Best Foot Forward, to discover how big a contribution councils could make to tackling climate change, by encouraging local people to turn to their website for routine transactions.
The report found that not only are online services more cost efficient in staff time than the use of paper, but that there are also parallel savings in terms of CO2 emissions because of the reduced number of journeys.
Contrary to what was expected in some quarters, the survey found that these carbon savings are significantly in excess of the negative impact of extra IT server capacity.
The research was based on real life data supplied by Sunderland City Council, which covered five key local authority services - planning, schools admissions, registrar's certificates, environmental services enquiries and council tax payments.
The results revealed the city council could save 80,000 kg of CO2 each year. Rolled out nationally this is the equivalent of over 14,000 tonnes of CO2, or 5,362 return air flights from Heathrow to Malaga each year.
Parmjit Dhanda, e-Government minister said, "We know that driving to the town hall to carry out a transaction uses 20 times more energy than doing it online. That's why it's so important that we encourage people to talk to their local authority through the web."