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Senior NFDC Tories at odds over climate change urgency

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THE ruling cabinet on New Forest District Council is set to debate whether it should declare a climate emergency after the idea was rejected two years ago.

At the latest meeting of the Conservative-controlled council, NFDC leader Cllr Edward Heron accepted a motion from the opposition Liberal Democrat group and said his administration will reconsider the issue.

However, his pledge came as fellow Tory Cllr Derek Tipp, who as NFDC chair is the civic representative of the authority, denied there was an “emergency” after again being accused by the Lib Dems of being a “climate change denier”.

New Forest District Council chairman Cllr Derek Tipp (photo: Chris Balcombe)
New Forest District Council chairman Cllr Derek Tipp (photo: Chris Balcombe)

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

The latest motion includes a pledge to make the district carbon neutral by 2030, including production and consumption, and set out actions and a plan to measure annual progress locally.

Lib Dem leader Cllr Malcolm Wade said his party wanted “not only to change ways of working to reduce the carbon footprint but to show vital leadership in our environmentally sensitive district to instigate more work on activity to reduce climate change”.

He also again branded Cllr Tipp a “climate change denier” and accused him of trying to stop the motion being read out.

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this summer found that human activity is changing the Earth’s climate in “unprecedented” ways, with some now “irreversible”. It said a more than 1.5-degree C global temperature increase from pre-industrial times would cause devastating weather changes. The UN described it as a “code red” warning.

Explaining his position to the A&T, Cllr Tipp described the 1.1-degree C rise since 1850 as only a “modest amount of global warming” of which, he claimed, only part could be blamed on humans.

NFDC rejected declaring a climate emergency two years ago
NFDC rejected declaring a climate emergency two years ago

Cllr Tipp said the Lib Dems’ attack was politically motivated, and went on: “The problem is that politics has taken over from the science and this issue has now been captured by extremists, such as Extinction Rebellion.

“Unfortunately, the government has listened to these extremists and they are now fully embarking on a very costly policy of trying to eliminate fossil fuels, regardless of the fact that other major industrial nations, such as China and India, are increasing their fossil fuel usage which means our costly efforts will be wiped out. Unilateral action is pointless, just as with nuclear disarmament.

“The language now being used is very extreme with terms like ‘climate emergency’ being used as an everyday phrase.

“It is the use of this extreme language, along with almost daily clips of extreme weather events on our main news channels which is designed to convince a sceptical public that the vast expense of decarbonisation (government estimate is £1.4tn up to 2050) is justified.

“Extreme weather has always occurred and the data shows it has not increased in either severity or quantity when measured over the long term.

“I am very concerned for the residents of the UK who will have to pay heavily for this and so I believe it is very important to speak up as a voice of reason.”

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