Uttesford

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Notice of Motion received from Councillors Criscione, Light, Pepper and Tayler: Climate and Ecological Emergency

This Council is resolved:

  1. To declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency, acting now to prevent a climate and ecological catastrophe that will greatly impact our children, grandchildren and future generations

 

2 . To commit to achieving net-zero carbon status by 2030 and protecting and enhancing bio-diversity by:

 

  • requesting the Cabinet Member for Environment and Green Issues to establish an Energy and Climate Change Working Group of Cabinet
  • working collaboratively across the Council and engaging with individuals, community groups, businesses and other partners in the district, including young people who should have a voice to help shape our future
  • lobbying Central Government to urgently provide funding and implement necessary policy changes
  • producing a bold plan of action that is realistic, measurable and deliverable
  • ensuring significant progress has been made to deliver the action plan by April 2023

Minutes:

The Chair moved item 10 forward in proceedings for the benefit of the public present. He invited Councillor Pepper to propose the initial motion as set out in the agenda.

Councillor Pepper provided background context to the climate and ecological emergency motion. She said the signs of a global climate emergency were already evident and there was limited time to take action and avert a manmade climate and ecological crisis. She thanked members of the local community who had campaigned on the issue of climate change and who would be crucial in shaping a net zero carbon future. The motion had been a cross-party endeavor and had been coauthored with Councillors Light, Criscione, Tayler and supported by Councillor Pavitt.

She proposed the motion as follows:

This Council is resolved:

  1. To declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency, acting now to prevent a climate and ecological catastrophe that will greatly impact our children, grandchildren and future generations
  2. To commit to achieving net-zero carbon status by 2030 and protecting and enhancing bio-diversity by:
  • requesting the Cabinet Member for Environment and Green Issues to establish an Energy and Climate Change Working Group of Cabinet
  • working collaboratively across the Council and engaging with individuals, community groups, businesses and other partners in the district, including young people who should have a voice to help shape our future
  • lobbying Central Government to urgently provide funding and implement necessary policy changes 
  • producing a bold plan of action that is realistic, measurable and deliverable  
  • ensuring significant progress has been made to deliver the action plan by April 2023

Councillor Criscione seconded the motion.

Councillor Day said the Council had a moral duty to future generations and the people of the District to protect the natural environment and ensure the highest quality of life for residents. He said pollution from the aviation industry required real scrutiny and central government would need to do something about it as there was little mention of aircraft pollution in current guidance. He said the new administration were committed to a fairer deal with Stansted Airport and Councillor Pepper, in her capacity as the newly established Cabinet member for Green Issues, would be the right person to do this.

Councillor Tayler said he was pleased that the motion had been a collaborative effort with cross-party agreement. He said it would be important that all parties felt like they had a role in managing the process, as measurable targets would need to be set that were both realistic and challenging. He urged members to support the motion.

Councillor Storah said he was skeptical of manmade climate change and would be abstaining from the vote. Although he would be abstaining, he said the motion would be more purposeful if it contained practical clauses, such as the banning of single-use plastics.

Councillor Gerard thanked the public speakers and Councillor Pepper for expressing their views with passion. He commended the cross party efforts in drafting the motion and said members had an opportunity to do something special for the future of the District.

Councillor Dean commended the cross-party and grass roots nature of the motion but said more was required than just a talking shop. He said a climate emergency was not mentioned in the budget and if this was to have a meaningful impact resources would need to be allocated.

Councillor Eke thanked the public for their attendance. He said there were a number of things the Council could do quickly to prevent a climate crisis but warned that this was a global issue and real change would take time. He highlighted the lack of cycle routes in the district and said the Administration would work hard to ensure developers contributed their fair share to such schemes.

Councillor Asker urged members to back the motion, although she supported the right for alternative views such as Councillor Storah’s to be expressed at Council.

Councillor Driscoll said the Council should be leading the way on green issues and suggested investing in electric vehicles as a good starting point.

Councillor Caton said he supported this motion and wanted to embed environmentalism in the local community. He said it was up to everyone to make small changes in their lives to make a difference.

Councillor Hargreaves, in his role as Cabinet Member for the Budget and Finance, listed the financial reserves available to Council; the Strategic Initiative Fund – £1.6 million, the Transformation Reserve – £1.1 million and the Future Development Project fund – £200,000. He said this £3 million could be used to prevent climate change and if necessary to fight the Stansted Airport application if it was taken to appeal.

 

Councillor Lemon said resources would be an important element of any strategy dealing with climate change. He added that the Council should speak to all local businesses to encourage the adoption of green initiatives.

Councillor Pavitt said this was a very important issue to him personally, and it would take a lot of small actions from individuals to make a difference on a global scale. He said libraries could be used as action centres for those people wishing to come together to discuss and take action on climate change.

Councillor Loughlin said she would support the motion and asked members of the public to be conscientious and not create bonfires with noxious materials.

Councillor Criscione said he was proud to have coauthored the motion and hoped it would create change felt in the county and beyond.  The issue of climate change was one that transcended party politics and geographical boundaries.

Councillor Pepper summarised the debate and said the Administration would take great steps to improve air quality, protect biodiversity and reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions.

RESOLVED to:

  1. To declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency, acting now to prevent a climate and ecological catastrophe that will greatly impact our children, grandchildren and future generations
  2.  To commit to achieving net-zero carbon status by 2030 and protecting and enhancing bio-diversity by:
  • requesting the Cabinet Member for Environment and Green Issues to establish an Energy and Climate Change Working Group of Cabinet
  • working collaboratively across the Council and engaging with individuals, community groups, businesses and other partners in the district, including young people who should have a voice to help shape our future
  • lobbying Central Government to urgently provide funding and implement necessary policy changes
  • producing a bold plan of action that is realistic, measurable and deliverable
  • ensuring significant progress has been made to deliver the action plan by April 2023
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