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'Action not slogans here.' Norfolk County Council leaders claim 'significant' climate progress without emergency declaration

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County council chiefs have defended their record on tackling climate change, insisting they're focused on action rather than "slogans".

The authority has come under renewed pressure in recent weeks to formally declare a climate emergency, which it declined to do following a vote earlier this year.

But a report presented to its cabinet this week claimed there had already been "substantial" progress in reducing the council's carbon footprint.

Norfolk County Council's headquarters, where calls for DIY waste recycling charges to be scrapped are set to be debated next week (44788324)
Norfolk County Council's headquarters, where calls for DIY waste recycling charges to be scrapped are set to be debated next week (44788324)

And environment portfolio holder Andy Grant told colleagues: "What we won't do is waste time discussing phrases and slogans against getting the job done."

More than 1,800 people have already signed an online petition launched by Friends of the Earth, calling for the county council to declare a climate emergency.

Members of the group's Fenland and West Norfolk branch were in Lynn at the weekend gathering support for that petition and a separate call for action to clean up the Gaywood River.

Campaigners claim the declaration would give a clear signal to the public, as well as inspiring others to act.

But an update on the council's Natural Norfolk programme, which aims to make the authority carbon neutral by 2030, said there had been a 19 per cent cut in carbon emissions from heating and a 65 per cent cut from lease cars.

The plan includes a commitment to immediately cease the purchase of fossil fuel-powered vehicles and boilers, unless there are exceptional operational reasons to do so, plus further decarbonisation studies of the council's activities.

The meeting was also told that more than 50,000 trees had been planted towards the council's commitment to plant a million by 2030.

Commercial services and asset management portfolio holder Greg Peck said the overall carbon footprint of the council's estate had been cut by 68 per cent since the Conservatives regained overall control at County Hall in 2017.

Children's services portfolio holder John Fisher added: "I do get concerned the message going out to young people is negative. This is a positive message.

"We're doing something that actually makes a difference. A statement on climate emergency does nothing for that particular issue."

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