Unanimous councillor backing for climate emergency proposal and environment protest

There was a distinctly 'green' feel to the Thanet council meeting

A motion to declare a climate emergency and make Thanet council carbon neutral by 2030 received a unanimous backing at an authority meeting last night (July 11).

The motion was put by Labour councillor Rob Yates who asked that TDC: “Declare a climate emergency;  Pledge to do what is within TDC powers and resources to make Thanet District Council carbon neutral by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions;  Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible; Continue to work with partners across the county and region to deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies;  Requests the council investigate all possible sources of external funding and match funding to support this commitment.”

Rob Yates and Mike Garner

The motion was seconded by Green Party member Mike Garner.

Cllr Yates said the authority should look at a variety of green measures including 20mph zones, ensuring a TDC tree officer would work on a planting scheme, implementing green energy sources at council offices, making sure properties were insulated and increasing recycling.

He said: “According to the IPCC we are less than 12 years away from catastrophic climate change. In this time, we as a planet must achieve a reduction of our CO2 emissions by 50% or else a tipping point is reached and human intervention to prevent global warming becomes much, much more difficult.

“Nearly every single major national scientific body around the world unreservedly supports the works and findings of the IPCC so I hope that the science tonight is not up for debate.

“It is with this in mind that we propose to declare a climate emergency in the hope that we as Thanet District Council can play our part and aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.”

Cllr Garner said Thanet would feel the impact of climate change early due to rising sea levels. He added: “There are groups protecting green spaces and we should be working with, and planning with, them.

“We need to work with groups, neighbours, the community and businesses to reduce C02 emissions.”

Cllr Peter Campbell said Ramsgate Town Council has already voted to adopt a carbon neutral policy while Cllr Aram Rawf suggested making sure all residents had access to facilities such as composting.

Cllr Karen Constantine expressed regret that Kent County Council has pushed its carbon neutral pledge back to 2050 saying action was needed to hit the 2030 target.

Council leader Bob Bayford commented on the “amazing support” and said that a report on the carbon neutral target would be compiled and brought back to council in February.

Following the meeting Cllr Yates said: “I have worked in the wind industry for 10 years, which brought me to Thanet. The UK is the world leader in offshore wind and the industry is quickly taking over from the old oil and gas sector in the north sea.

“It is right that Thanet play their part and declare a climate emergency and take actions now for the benefit of our children and grandchildren”.

The motion coincided with a lively protest outside the council offices by the Thanet Trees group and Extinction Rebellion.

Drumming, singing and a hurdy gurdy added to the ‘festival’ feel of the demonstration which received numerous toots from passing vehicles.

The aim of the Trèes protest  was to demand a full biodiversity strategy and accountability for all actions by the council open spaces team and any contractors involved in hedge cutting past, present and future. Extinction Rebellion is a climate change pressure group.

During the meeting it was confirmed TDC is recruiting an aboricultural specialist, carrying out ecological risk assessments for a variety of parks and open spaces works and has bought, as a trial at this stage, an infrared imaging wildlife camera.