Call for consultation on West Norfolk Council climate change strategy
A Norfolk council which was set to scrap its climate change role just a year ago is speeding up moves to cut carbon emissions.
On Tuesday, West Norfolk Council’s (WNC) environment and community panel examined proposals to bring forward council carbon net-zero from 2050 to 2035.
Officer Dave Robson told councillors they had been asked to look at bringing the date ahead to 2030 and this would be kept under review.
Ahead of the meeting, environment cabinet member Paul Kunes also announced his intention to declare a climate emergency at the next full council meeting on September 9.
Mr Kunes said the council feels the time is right and it wants to demonstrate how it plans to enable and support businesses and residents to do their bit.
He said: “The council’s own carbon footprint is just a small percentage of the borough’s footprint, so by all working together we can achieve a much bigger impact.”
In February 2020, WNC rejected calls from Green councillor Michael de Whalley to call an emergency and to go carbon neutral by 2030.
The recommendations, which will go on to cabinet, were welcomed by councillors on Tuesday’s panel, but concerns were raised by Mr de Whalley, who called for the strategy to go out to consultation.
Mr de Whalley said the climate emergency was “not a spot of bother” and required the input of residents.
“We are trying to bring the community along with us so we need the cooperation of the community,” he said.
“It’s vital that we ask people because there could be some uncomfortable asks as we did with the Covid pandemic.”
Mr Kunes rejected the suggestion, saying speed was of the essence and consultation would take time and money.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, a West Norfolk Extinction Rebellion spokesperson said they were “glad they are finally listening”.
They welcomed the earlier date and a £1m investment over four years into implementing smaller schemes and preparing for funding bids.
But they stressed the need for wider engagement and consultation and said: “They need to show leadership to the rest of west Norfolk and take ownership of the powers they have as a local authority to aim for net-zero borough-wide.”