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Breckland Council to appoint climate change officer as cabinet member admits frustration at policy delay

District council leaders have backed plans to appoint a climate change officer after “frustration” at a lack of progress over reducing carbon emissions.

Breckland Council has agreed to create an environment and climate change officer role to support the authority’s work to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainability.

The fixed-term contract will support Ian Sherwood, customer engagement cabinet member, in the council’s efforts.

Breckland Council leaders have admitted frustration at the slow pace of their efforts to tackle climate change.
Breckland Council leaders have admitted frustration at the slow pace of their efforts to tackle climate change.

The news comes days after it was revealed that Nathan Elvery, a former chief executive at an organisation said to have a “significant bullying problem”, had been appointed in a senior role at Breckland.

It also follows news that climate scientists have predicted the shrinking Arctic sea ice could vanish entirely during the summer months of 2035 – for the first time since prehistoric humans migrated out of Africa – due to global warming.

During a Breckland cabinet meeting held on Monday, Mr Sherwood said: “Back in September 2019, we were one of the first councils in Norfolk to declare a climate emergency and a year has now passed.

Ian Sherwood, Breckland councillor for Swaffham (5856357)
Ian Sherwood, Breckland councillor for Swaffham (5856357)

"Like many of you, I’m frustrated that we haven’t made progress on the timeline we originally set.

“We all know the reasons for this – the pandemic of course. Since June we’ve worked hard to get the back on track.”

He told the meeting: “We are now advertising for a fixed-term climate change officer to work on the strategy.

"We’ve been working with the University of East Anglia (UEA) on its internship programme, as well as with other Norfolk councils.”

Labour's Susan Dowling asked: “How long is that fixed-term likely to be?”

Senior policy advisor, Greg Pearson, said the role would initially be advertised for a period of two years.

“As part of the programme we bring forward in January, we may look to review that,” he added.

Mr Sherwood said: “There’s always an opportunity to extend these contracts. To have that person in place to really push the programme forward once its agreed is incredibly important.”

Council leader Sam Chapman-Allen said: “I hope we get hundreds of applications and it’s a really difficult job for the team to try and filter them down. It’s a really exciting opportunity which Breckland is embarking on.”

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