A GROUNDBREAKING new energy strategy which aims to tackle the twin problems of fuel poverty and climate change has been agreed by Stroud District Council's executive.

The strategy - one of the first of its kind in the country - will see more than £5 million set aside between 2013 and 2018 for upgrading heating systems and improving insulation in some of the 5,200 homes owned by the council.

Tenants will also be encouraged to change their behaviour and consume less energy as part of the strategy, which is designed to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impact of rising energy prices on householders.

At a meeting of SDC's executive on Thursday, Cllr Simon Pickering (Green, Slade) blamed the state of the economy and the policies of the coalition Government for increasing levels of fuel poverty.

Speaking afterwards, he said: "We have a very radical carbon reduction programme and the new energy strategy meets the duel targets of reducing our carbon footprint and making it cheaper for tenants to heat their properties.

"It is a win-win situation and where possible we are also going to be using local contractors to keep employment locally for the good of the local economy."

A household is defined as being in fuel poverty when it has to spend more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel for adequate heating.