Eco-campaigners 'disappointed' with Dorset Council draft climate plan

Eco-campaigners 'disappointed' with Dorset Council draft climate plan

Published by George Sharpe at 8:33am 20th July 2020.

Dorset's Extinction Rebellion members are disappointed with Dorset Councils first 'Climate & Ecological Emergency Strategy' draft.

Dorset's Extinction Rebellion members are disappointed with Dorset Councils first 'Climate & Ecological Emergency Strategy' draft.

They're welcoming the release of the strategy but did expect to see a fully costed plan and not just a strategy. 

The plan's being discussed at the Place Scrutiny meeting on Thursday and outlines the local authority's plans to address climate change across Dorset. 

Extinction rebellion protest one year on
Extinction Rebellion says they've been waiting on a plan from Dorset Council since they declared a climate emergency over a year ago.

Dorset's Extinction Rebellion met last week to discuss the draft plans.

Caz Dennett from XR says it's clear a lot of time and effort has gone into researching, preparing and writing the plan.

"On first review the threats we face, they do seem to be well understood by the authors, Dorset Council clearly state we have only 8-10 years at the rate of carbon emissions to take action and avoid the worst impact. 

"We did expect to see fully costed and not just a strategy, but what we see in this document is a wish list of what the council want to do, either by themselves or working with suppliers, partners and community groups. 

"We are disappointed by this and we would really urge the council to produce the action plan and activate it."

Dorset Council wants the county to be carbon neutral by 2040, a decade before the Government's 2050 target. But, they say the COVID-19 response has changed the council's financial situation, meaning there's a balance to find between climate and coronavirus policy.

Coronavirus Dorchester

Cllr Ray Bryan said: 

"I'm confident that this strategy provides the foundation for an action plan that is realistic, ambitious and deliverable by 2040 and I'd like to thank everyone who has been involved in putting it together.

"It is vital to recognise that the world has changed dramatically since we declared a climate emergency over a year ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has left Dorset Council with huge financial challenges that need to be urgently addressed. Balancing what we need to do to address climate change with our legal requirement to provide statutory services is key.

"The responsibilities of our climate and ecological emergency declaration will remain at the heart of Dorset Council's plans and will continue to directly influence and inform future strategies, initiatives and policies.

"When our financial situation improves, when opportunities present themselves, or when new technology becomes available, I promise we will regularly return to this work to look for ways we can achieve our goals earlier. But in the meantime, I would ask everyone to read the strategy and let us know your views when we launch the consultation."

8-10 year window for action

Caz say 2040 is still too late though, as the science points to a window of eight to ten years for action.

"That window is closing every time we don't take any action, so it's a contradiction because their strategy is for the next 20 years. 

"We do appreciate that Dorset Council need central government to make policy changes and spending decisions that will help unlock some of the biggest opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.

Extinction Rebellion say 2040 is too late, and the window to make change is much smaller.

"We know there's a lot to do and today after reading the strategy, we would call on all of Dorset's MP's to get behind the strategy and call upon government, so Dorset Council can bring the deadline date to 2030."

The group made it clear that they were going to put forward suggestions.

"We hope the consultation won't be too long and drawn out, I don't think all the actions that the council are doing need to consulted on, they can make decisions.

"But yet we will not just wait for the consultation, but we will be chipping, we know that there is the place scrutiny meeting which is going to review the strategy next Thursday and we will be having some involvement in that."