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New Forest District Council cabinet set to U-turn and declare climate emergency as clash looms with chairman Cllr Derek Tipp

THE ruling cabinet on New Forest District Council is set to do a U-turn and declare a climate emergency – putting it at odds with the authority’s chairman.

A report to the top table, which is set to meet on Wednesday, has urged them to make the declaration on behalf of the council. A committee resisted such an urge two years ago.

The matter is up before the Tory-controlled authority’s cabinet as Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Malcolm Wade put forward a motion which noted the code-red declaration and warnings of more flooding, droughts and extreme weather in the recent high-profile IPCC report.

New Forest District Council will be urged to make the declaration on Wednesday
New Forest District Council will be urged to make the declaration on Wednesday

Ahead of the meeting, Cllr Wade called out the cabinet, telling the A&T: "That report’s findings are both frightening and clear and if we do not do something now the future of mankind and the environment we live in is under serious threat

"This is not a political issue; it is an environment survival issue," he continued, and declared: "The Liberal Democrats will work with all parties to ensure NFDC does all it can to fight climate change in our environmentally sensitive district to protect it for future generations of New Forest residents."

As reported in the A&T, in 2019 the council’s environment overview and scrutiny panel refused to back the declaration, instead voting for an action plan, which includes making the council carbon neutral by 2050.

Cllr Wade’s new motion includes a pledge to make the district carbon neutral by 2030 and set out actions and a plan to measure annual progress locally.

Documents published online ahead of the cabinet meeting show it has been urged by officers to declare a climate emergency.

The report – authored by executive head for planning, regeneration and the economy, Claire Upton-Brown – adds: "Since the matter was last considered there has been considerable change at a local, national and worldwide level.

Cllr Derek Tipp has rejected claims he is a climate change denier (photo: Chris Balcombe)
Cllr Derek Tipp has rejected claims he is a climate change denier (photo: Chris Balcombe)

"The pandemic has seen the positive impact changes in behaviour bought about by the pandemic has had on the environment."

It adds it is "important" the council "does not focus exclusively on climate change" and promote actions which "compromise wider environmental considerations".

The report goes on: "The impact of climate change is having an effect on nature. There are a range of actions that are distinct for climate change and to achieve nature recovery. Action for one emergency will not be sufficient to solve the other."

It is sure to interest NFDC chairman, Cllr Derek Tipp, who has repeatedly denied claims by Cllr Wade that he is a "climate change denier", adding the attacks are "politically motivated".

He has told the A&T he thinks the "modest" 1.1-degree C rise since 1850 could "only part could be blamed on humans" and expressed concerns that "politics has taken over from the science and this issue has now been captured by extremists".

Cllr Tipp also lamented that the government seem intent on "very costly policies of trying to eliminate fossil fuels" when other "major industrial nations, such as China and India" are increasing their usage, adding: "Unilateral action is pointless, just as with nuclear disarmament."

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