'To move to be carbon neutral in 10 years is nuts' - Norfolk County Council refuses to back climate change target
PUBLISHED: 15:59 07 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 03 June 2019
A six-year vision for Norfolk has been unveiled by the controlling Conservatives at County Hall - but opposition councillors criticised it for a lack of ambition over tackling climate change.
Council leader Andrew Proctor presented the authority's 'Together, for Norfolk' plan to a meeting of the full council on Tuesday, setting out "the council's ambition, approach and plans to improve social mobility and grow the economy" in the county.
Mr Proctor said: "Our ambition is for economic growth, managed development and the determination to offer better futures for all, working with a host of organisations, businesses and community groups across our county."
Under the three banners of growing economy, thriving people and strong communities, Mr Proctor said new ways of working were needed amid funding challenges for the council, including a need to generate money and manage demand on services.
He said there were specific interventions planned in Great Yarmouth, Thetford and King's Lynn, including to get new homes and jobs created.
But Labour tabled an amendment to the vision, including adding targets to make the county carbon neutral by 2030 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the same year.
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Labour's Dr Chris Jones, who represents Thorpe Hamlet, said: "I am surprised at the leader's reluctance to set targets. If we don't change course, we are going to hit the iceberg."
Mick Castle, independent councillor for Yarmouth North and Central, said: "It's not feasible to be carbon neutral within 10 years.
"In Yarmouth, yes, we are big in renewables, but that's just a very small part of energy needs. To move to be carbon neutral in 10 years is nuts." Mr Castle said Yarmouth also depended on jobs in the oil and gas industry and it would take more than 10 years - and an increase in nuclear capacity - to decommission those.
And the council voted against the Labour amendment.
Conservative Judy Oliver said climate change would be at the heart of the council's decision-making, while leader Mr Proctor said the new infrastructure and development select committee would help forge the council's environmental policy.
A Conservative motion was agreed that the council "recognises the serious impact of climate change globally and the need for urgent action" and that it needs to "lead by example and demonstrate to the next generation our action and responsibilities in tackling climate change".
It came two months after protesters from campaign group Extinction Rebellion occupied the chamber at County Hall in protest at what they said was inaction among all levels of government over climate change.