Curriculum Vitae for Stephen Cirell LLB, Solicitor


Stephen is a local government expert on the green agenda, covering energy use, energy efficiency and renewable energy. He has spent a 34 year career involved in local government work with a record of innovation, leadership and delivery. The early part of his work was in local government corporate and commercial areas from both the public and private sectors. Since 2006 he has specialised in local government climate change work.


  • 8 O Levels
  • 3 A Levels
  • Degree in Law LLB – 2:1
  • Qualified solicitor

Work History

  • 1982 – 84 - Stockport MBC – Articled Clerk
  • 1984 – 88 - Dudley MBC - Assistant, Senior and then Principal Solicitor
  • 1988 – 93 - Leeds City Council - Assistant Chief Legal Officer
  • 1993 – 2010 – Eversheds – Equity Partner
  • 2009 – 10 – Cornwall Council – Corporate Director in charge of the Green Cornwall Programme

Achievements to Date

  • Developed a reputation as a legal expert during 12 years in the local government legal service, from 1982. Widely recognised (with John Bennett) as the leading authority nationally on competition and tendering;
  • Joined Eversheds in 1993 and created and led the national local government team. Over 17 years of leadership, took the firm from negligible local government work from local authorities, to a position where it had a turnover approaching £30m per annum and was the undisputed leader in its field;
  • In 2009, joined newly created Cornwall Council as Director of the Green Cornwall Programme. Devised and planned the entire programme, which has been regarded as a market leader nationally and led to the first civic solar farm in the UK;
  • Since 2010 has been lead consultant on renewable energy and energy efficiency for the Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE), which is a local authority owned organisation that provides services to its members. APSE has been at the forefront of promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency to local government;
  • Has written 17 books on various elements of local government law, including books on solar PV and biomass heating. Stephen has also had over 500 articles published in the local government press and now writes for Solar Media;
  • Stephen has a record of innovation in developing new solutions for local authorities to assist them in achieving their goals. Examples from the past include the areas of CCT (developing compliance / avoidance strategies); and charging and trading (developing innovative strategies for income generation). Since he has been specialising in climate change work, he has been very successful in identifying technologies that would be attractive to local government and which would fit its asset base and developing business cases for such schemes (which persuade authorities to fund them).
  • He was shortlisted in 2010 for the Financial Times Legal Innovation awards, in the individual 'Most Innovative Lawyer of the Year' category, for his work in climate change.

Relevant Work Experience

As Programme Director for the Green Cornwall Programme 2009 - 2010, he was responsible for the entire Council's work in this area, both mitigation and adaptation.

The role was "cross cutting", rather than departmentally based and was essentially "co-ordinating" in nature, with the responsibility to bring together a host of pre-existing and completely new initiatives into a credible corporate programme. This work created the Green Cornwall Programme as known in its current form.

Since 2010 Stephen has been the lead consultant for APSE and led its work on the green agenda. Joining APSE as a self employed consultant, it had no relevant work in the green agenda, but a good track record of working with its members on other relevant areas.

Over the past six years Stephen has ensured that the energy side of APSE has grown substantially and has been at the forefront of developments in the green agenda. It has overseen a large increase in projects from local government across all areas. It has now advised over 100 local authorities and been involved in all of the major renewable energy technology areas.

The group is influential with Government and policy makers and has been instrumental in thought leadership, for example encouraging local authorities to establish Energy Services Companies, build out large solar and wind farms and replace traditional fleet cars with electric vehicles.

As the sole APSE consultant on energy for five years, Stephen has provided a full service to its clients. He is responsible for the entire growth of this work.

Areas of work include:

  • Strategy; the starting point is often a strategy, whether climate change, energy, renewable energy or sustainability, advice is given on how the situation in the authority might be improved.
  • Development of Business Cases; assisting with the preparation of business cases for numerous local authorities in order to demonstrate the financial viability in either income of costs savings of renewable energy or energy efficiency work. This work is across a range of different technologies, including solar PV, wind, biomass, hydropower and electric vehicle fleets.
  • Advice on Projects; each commission requires advice on a particular project. Using solar PV as an example, Phase 1 advice on whether a Council has land that is suitable for a solar farm, indicating how to go about it, developing the business case (as above) and providing advice on grid connections, planning permissions and how to go about it. If the project proceeds then further phases of work will become more detailed.
  • Chief Officer and Member Liaison; in the majority of cases, the work is commissioned by a chief officer and involves regular liaison with elected members.
  • Training & Events; delivery of a whole range of training events for officers and members in local authorities. These include events on climate change, energy efficiency and renewable energy. He is a regular contributor to APSE Energy monthly meetings and other events, such as the APSE Energy annual Energy Summit.
  • Regular speaker on other events, such as Solar Power UK (on solar PV), Next Gen (on biomass), Energy 4 Power (on heat networks) and the British Hydropower Association (on hydropower).
  • Research; a range of research papers written, including:
    • The Virtuous Green Circle – Creating a Revolving Fund for Local Authority Solar Energy (APSE);
    • The New Green Team: Local government, sustainable energy, jobs and skills (Unison / TUC);
    • The Green Deal – ECO Implications for Local Authorities (APSE)
  • Has been commissioned by APSE to write a new paper on electricity generation and supply, covering Energy Services Companies, power purchase agreements and the electricity market.
  • Collaboration; developed the concept and brought to fruition a collaboration of 20+ local authorities all seeking to build solar farms on their land. This included all the preparatory paperwork, hosting the meetings and overseeing the signing up of the group to share costs.
  • This collaboration will deliver a whole host of solar farm projects by local authorities across the next two years. To date only 5 solar farms have been built in the UK by local authorities and the capacity in this collaboration is ten times as much as currently exists.

Major Projects

  • Developed the concept and planned the delivery of the first solar farm in the UK built by Cornwall Council in 2012;
  • Wrexham CBC – lead adviser on a £25 m solar PV project to put solar PV on 3,000 council houses;
  • Preston City Council – lead adviser on a 9 MW wind farm project;
  • Lancaster City Council – lead adviser on a £2m+ project to fit solar PV on non- domestic buildings;
  • West Lindsey DC – creation of a corporate climate change plan;
  • Stockport – development of a biomass supply chain strategy, linked to ECO;
  • Advised Conwy Council in North Wales on marine energy and a tidal lagoon;
  • Currently advising twenty local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland on solar farms of at least 5 MW;

Relevant Skills

A number of key skills can be brought to climate change work:

  • Experienced solicitor and legal adviser on powers and commercial public law;
  • Experienced in commercial contracting at a large scale, including procurement, contract documentation and financing;
  • Leadership and co-ordination of a programme or series of climate change projects;
  • Analysis of proposals and forming of policies and strategies on climate change;
  • Business planning skills to develop a corporate audit trail from aims to decisions to act, including income from financial incentives, such as feed in tariffs;
  • Project management of individual climate change projects;
  • Sophisticated negotiator and influencer, helping different parties rally behind a common goal;
  • Partnership skills, working with different stakeholders in the public sector to act collaboratively;
  • Motivation and encouragement of others, both members and officers;
  • Presentation and PR work, including the writing of formal guidance, other publications and documents;
  • Thought leadership;
  • Management skills to build a team of people to develop services for clients and gel as a unit;


References may be sought from:

  • Paul O Brien – Chief Executive, APSE; Washbrook House, Lancastrian Office Centre, Talbot Road, Old Trafford, Manchester, M32 OFP.
  • Andrew Arden QC – Head of Arden Chambers, 20 Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1A 2NS.


Stephen is a person with a very high national profile and an established name in local government circles, who wants to work for the public sector in climate change work.

The main aim is for local authorities to rise to the challenges presented by climate change and to demonstrate that they are capable of providing a low carbon economy and developing renewable energy solutions for their communities.

His main achievement is to help public bodies to understand the importance of the climate change agenda and the opportunities it offers, together with raising their ambition as to what might be achieved and boosting their confidence to act boldly and innovatively.

He is passionate about the public sector, and the position of local government within it. He believes that local authorities should be empowered to act in the best interests of their inhabitants, rather than according to central government dictat and have a central role in encouraging and assisting communities to adopt a low carbon lifestyle.

Stephen Cirell
5 July 2016