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New Forest District Council performs U-turn and declares a climate change emergency




A U-TURN from New Forest District Council has seen members agree to declare a climate emergency.

A clear majority raised their hands at Monday night’s full meeting to make the declaration – two years after a committee refused to do the same thing.

The ruling Conservative group was chided by members of the Liberal Democrat opposition whose leader, Cllr Malcolm Wade, had pressed NFDC to make the same declaration already made by other local authorities, including Hampshire County Council.

The New Forest District Council's offices
The New Forest District Council's offices

He told members that “we need to act now”, adding it was a rare issue that could unite the different political factions.

However, while Lib Dem colleague Cllr David Harrison welcomed the switch, he said: “Some will say we have been the slowest ship in the convoy.”

Tories were keen to stress the council has already been pursuing policies to help tackle climate change and protect the sensitive local environment.

Cllr David Harrison
Cllr David Harrison

NFDC leader Cllr Edward Heron said: “This is a clear signal that we consider it of such importance that we will be building on the climate change actions already under way and taking a more fundamental look at our activities, with the target of reducing carbon emissions along with an ambitious action plan being put in place to measure annual district-wide progress.”

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

Cllr Edward Heron
Cllr Edward Heron

The latest motion sets a much more ambitious target of 2030 and calls for annual updates on progress.

However, there were declaration sceptics – including current NFDC chair Cllr Derek Tipp. He has warned about “extremist groups like Extinction Rebellion”, and campaigned against what he claims are “exaggerated effects of CO2 emissions on the world’s climate”.



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