‘Gross dereliction of duty’ - council’s long-awaited climate policy criticised
PUBLISHED: 18:22 22 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:22 22 September 2020
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A Norfolk council that has again refused to declare a state of climate emergency has seen its environment policy criticised as “a gross dereliction of duty”.
But the council’s leadership stopped short of declaring a climate emergency, despite being called on to do so several times by campaigners and the opposition.
Speaking at the meeting, held on Tuesday, September 22, independent councillor Michael de Whalley slammed the council’s efforts as “woefully inadequate”.
The policy commits the council to cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions - but only from its own activities and not across the wider borough, which is the third-highest for emissions in England.
He said: “The resources and attention devoted by the council to the climate emergency have been woefully inadequate.
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“It has taken the best part of a year to produce an unambitious policy which lacks the urgency the crisis deserves. It focuses on carbon reduction, prioritising the council’s own emissions which represent approximately 1 in 300 of the district’s emissions.
“The lack of ambition to face the challenge of climate chaos represents a gross dereliction of duty by the ruling group.”
He said the actions should be “properly resourced” and the council should “commit to act promptly” on recommendations.
He added: “This council is perceived to be doing the absolute bare minimum while the rest of the world moves forward.”
Graham Middleton, portfolio holder for business development, said: “What this policy shows is a really robust plan for the future of this borough and what the council wants to do going forwards.”
And Alun Rhyves, independent councillor, added: “It doesn’t go all the way but it is part of the process. The council recognises how these things are interlinked.”
Elizabeth Nockolds, deputy council leader, said: “It’s not just the council, it’s everybody’s responsibility - we all have to work together to understand the climate challenge.”
Councillors voted to accept the new climate policy and against declaring a climate emergency.
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