Huhne added: “It’s ridiculous that the 1976 Local Government Act prevents councils from selling electricity from local wind turbines, or from anaerobic digestion.

“I want to see this repealed and by the end of the year I hope local authorities will be able to sell electricity from renewables – generating revenue to help local services and keep Council Tax down. Local communities can truly benefit from the low-carbon transition.”

The carbon footprint of every local council in England has been published for the first time. The new figures calculate the CO2 produced by councils in powering and heating their buildings, such as libraries, schools and leisure centers, as well as emissions from business travel, fleet vehicles and even refuse trucks.

The emissions data was collected from local authorities across England for the last financial year.

According to the data, East Cambridgeshire, East Northamptonshire, Broadland, the Isles of Scilly and West Somerset local authorities had the lowest carbon footprint. Birmingham, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Leeds and Hampshire were the highest emitters.

Huhne added: “By calculating their own emissions and the estimated costs of energy use, local councils will be able to identify how to save emissions and save money.”

Overall, English local authorities were responsible for 8.3 million tonnes of CO2 which is about 1.6% of the UK Total Net CO2 emissions for calendar year 2008.

The data also shows how much electricity local authorities have generated themselves, with over 600,000 KWh generated from onsite wind or solar power, and 33,800,000 KWh from onsite biomass.