County Council faces calls to go ‘further and faster’ on environmental issues
A Tory-led council that declared a climate emergency this summer has faced intense pressure from opposition advisers to reconsider how its environmental actions are being handled before postponing a decision on whether the hydraulic fracturing in the region.
A North Yorkshire County Council plenary meeting saw a North Yorkshire Climate Coalition, which includes 18 environmental groups based from Selby to Stokesley, calling on the authority to go ‘further and faster’ on environmental issues and abandon the policy of parties to introduce measures more quickly.
The coalition urged the council to address the twin climate and ecological emergencies and to harness “enormous economic opportunities” in a transition to a cleaner and greener economy.
The meeting was told that the leader of the authority, Councilor Carl Les, had this week called on people to support the decision of the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Change Commission to declare an ecological emergency, before his Conservative group vote to stop the creation of a task force on the biodiversity crisis. to the council.
Councilor Greg White, executive member for climate change and customer engagement, said the authority did not want to be judged on what it said, but rather on its actions, and that its carbon reduction plan was “bold”.
Councilor White added that while the council worked to introduce carbon reduction measures, it also needed to focus on its main objective, which was to provide much needed services.
Nevertheless, opposition advisers insisted that more action and greater focus were needed.
The administration then faced numerous questions from opposition members about its environmental actions, ranging from public transportation to the purchase of carbon-free electricity, and from installing air-source heat pumps to unloading pension fund investments in fossil fuels.
Tory members said the authority put environmental considerations at the heart of its existing system, which was best placed to guide the council on carbon reduction and accused opposition members of “grandfathering”.
The meeting also saw opposition councilors barred from debating brand fracking proposals in a county that has declared a climate emergency as inappropriate so the authority’s executive can consider them first and report on its actions. conclusions at the next full board meeting in February.
Leaders of the Labour, Liberal Democrat, Independent and Green groups have lined up in support of proposals to create greater oversight of the authority’s actions on climate change, with some saying the Tories are “resisting transparency”.
Green group leader Councilor Andy Brown accused the administration of “playing down the order of the issue” and said it needed to come up with “a clear, costed plan of action.”
He said: ‘We’ve had flooding destroying a bridge in Tadcaster, we’ve had flooding in Richmondshire, we’ve had virtually more fires every summer, we’ve had almost 40 degrees in the summer in Yorkshire, we’ve had had 20 degrees in February and November in North Yorkshire. We are on track for the hottest year ever.
Before Tory councilors voted against two proposals on climate change, they pointed to funding as the main determinant of potential action on climate change, from April the county’s new unitary authority faced a black hole of up to £70m.