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'Wake up', West Norfolk climate campaigners warn borough

West Norfolk climate activists are urging the council to declare a climate emergency and calling on residents to “wake up” to an “even more dangerous crisis”.

Extinction Rebellion West Norfolk have urged West Norfolk Council to declare a state of climate and ecological crisis, and warned residents the district is as risk of devastating annual floods.

The campaign have released a video urging residents to demand action from their representatives.

Extinction Rebellion claim we can't go back to business as usual after the coronavirus crisis.
Extinction Rebellion claim we can't go back to business as usual after the coronavirus crisis.

But the council’s environment cabinet member hit back at the group, claiming they were “not interested in all the things we’re doing and have done”.

The release of the video, via the group's YouTube channel, follows a recent poster campaign which argued that recent falls in air pollution during the lockdown should act as a base for how society could re-emerge from the coronavirus crisis.

Activist Dr Charlie Gardner said in the video: “In West Norfolk we face an additional crisis that’s going to be even more dangerous for us. It’s crazy that nobody seems to be talking about it. Wake up West Norfolk.”

The video stated that most of the borough was below flood level, and warned that the area could see repeats of the 1953 floods, which killed 3,000 people across East Anglia and Holland, annually by 2050.

Another activist said: “Our council wont do anything about it.

“We’ve been asking them for almost a year to declare a climate emergency. Ask your councillor to protect our home and our planet.”

The video included comments made by Ian Devereux, the council’s cabinet member for the environment, who said people in flood-risk areas had “chosen to live there in full knowledge of what’s happening”.

But Mr Devereux said his comments had been taken “out of context” and were said “at the end of an exchange about flooding”.

He added: “XR aren’t interested in all the things we are doing and have done and are planning to do.

“I’m not going to feed the veracious appetite of XR. We are in a pandemic now.

“That’s an emergency – it’s a time related definition.”

Commenting on the video, Dr Gardner said: “It is a result of frustration with the council. We don’t want to embarrass them.

“We’ve tried coming to them using the routes available to us and they ignore it. They’re not taking it seriously.”

And he added: “We find it strange that people in West Norfolk aren’t talking about this.

“It’s an issue that affects us all.”

Council leader Brian Long said: “The council is still working hard on its climate change strategy, although clearly there is reduced capacity for this work at the moment.

“A recent climate change motion was curtailed at the last full council meeting due time limit being exceeded. The next meeting was cancelled due to lockdown. The matter will be raised again at the next available full council meeting.

“The timetable for the climate change strategy means the document is likely to go to cabinet in September and full council in October.”

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