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Councillors vote to declare climate change emergency

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Thursday 27 June

Councillors have voted to declare a climate and ecological emergency in Swale. 

A motion was passed at last night’s full council meeting which committed the council to acting to reducing carbon emissions and make space for nature. 

The vote means the council will aim to make its own operations carbon neutral by 2025 and work with businesses, residents and organisations so the whole borough hits this ambitious target by 2030. 

It also committed the council to becoming plastic free by 2021, and make sure improving energy efficiency and creating space for nature are key priorities in all its strategies and plans. 

Cllr Tim Valentine, the cabinet member for environment at the council who proposed the motion, said: 

“We live in an area that is already vulnerable to flooding, with every tide washing more plastic onto our coastline, and where residents suffer from unacceptably high levels of air pollution.

"Habitat loss and changes in how we use the land are contributing to huge declines of species, with the rate of extinctions rising alarmingly and threatening the pollinators we rely on to grow the food we eat. 

"It’s simply unacceptable for us to sit and do nothing, hoping someone else will do something to deal with these problems. 

"Taking bold action now to tackle these issues will not only help to reverse these trends but will also deliver economic benefits and improved health and wellbeing for local people. 

"Insulating homes will reduce the number of people in fuel poverty and provide skilled jobs. Improved public transport will lead to fewer car journeys, create jobs and reduce social exclusion in rural areas. 

"Walking and cycling encourage a healthy, active lifestyle, and protecting our wild places and providing access to nature promotes good physical and mental health. 

"By showing leadership on these issues we can make a lasting difference not just for the local environment, but for the benefit of everyone.” 

Cllr Eddie Thomas, the deputy cabinet member for environment who seconded the motion said: 

“As the district council, we don’t have as many tools available to us as the county council or central government, but that won’t stop us doing what we are able to and calling on them to do more to help. 

"We can use the planning system to ensure new buildings are more energy-efficient and encourage sustainable travel such as walking and cycling. 

"We can reduce our own emissions, so our operations are carbon neutral by 2025, and work with local businesses, residents and organisations so the entire borough reaches this target by 2030. 

"We can become a plastic-free council by eliminating single-use plastics from our operations, whenever possible, by 2021. 

"Better transport planning would make fewer journeys necessary and developing the infrastructure for electric vehicles would make them a realistic alternative for those who do need to drive. 

"These actions, and more, will all add up to make a real difference and show future generations that we rose to the challenge and started to reverse the damage being done to our environment.” 

Following the motion, the council will now start working on plans to address the climate emergency, which will be reported back to full council by the end of the 2019/20 municipal year. 

The full motion is available on the council meeting agenda page. These will be updated with the minutes of the meeting, which will include the agreed amendments tabled by Cllr Nicholas Hampshire.



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