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‘House on fire’ - council refuse to declare climate emergency for third time

PUBLISHED: 19:21 09 July 2020

Members of Extinction Rebellion King's Lynn and Downham Market. Picture: Sarah Hussain

Members of Extinction Rebellion King's Lynn and Downham Market. Picture: Sarah Hussain

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A Norfolk council has voted not to declare a state of climate emergency for the third time, despite the situation being compared to a “house on fire”.

At the launch of the Love West Norfolk campaign is Borough Council leader Brian Long. Picture: Ian BurtAt the launch of the Love West Norfolk campaign is Borough Council leader Brian Long. Picture: Ian Burt

West Norfolk councillors debated the issue of declaring a climate emergency at a full council meeting on Thursday, July 9.

And councillors voted down an amendment calling on the council to “fully recognise the evolving climate and biodiversity crisis... and declare a climate and ecological emergency”.

READ MORE: Councillors slammed for closing meeting before climate emergency vote

Michael de Whalley, Green Party councillor, urged members to support the motion, and said: “This is our opportunity to learn the lessons of the current pandemic, such as the delay between cause and effect, to avert and prepare for the next by building a better, greener tomorrow. In the words of Albert Einstein, ‘the world is a dangerous place, because of those who look on and do nothing’.”

Labour councillor Jo Rust, who seconded the motion, added: “Economists are encouraging us to take action over this and our chancellor Rishi Sunak has spoken about the green agenda.

READ MORE: Decision on climate emergency gets further delay

“There’s nothing political about the environment - we’re all guilty.”

And independent councillor Sandra Squire said: “We can be brave and ambitious or hide behind the government’s skirts - it is our area that will be affected.

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“We are the last generation that can prevent really catastrophic consequences for humanity.

“If your house is on fire you call the fire brigade as an emergency.”

READ MORE: Further push for west Norfolk to declare climate emergency

However, council leader Brian Long said: “My problem with the amendment is one of the resource that we need as an organisation going forward to be able to deliver word for word what Mr de Whalley keeps asking for. “

He said cabinet recommended not declaring an emergency but that steps had and would be taken.

“It’s not that I don’t agree with what’s been said,” he added. “The difference comes with whether we take it as an emergency. We’ve delivered food to the vulnerable, we’ve got the homeless off the streets. The only thing has been the response to Covid-19.”

READ MORE: Norfolk council with county’s highest level of CO2 pollution does not declare climate emergency

Councillors voted against the climate emergency motion, but in favour of recognising the crisis and preparing a climate strategy.

After the meeting,a spokesman from West Norfolk Extinction Rebellion said: “Everyone can see climate change is ravaging our planet, but our council voted against doing their part to prevent the worst from happening.”

READ MORE: Council to debate climate emergency


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