Councillors and officers share ideas to tackle climate change

MEMBERS of Dorset Council’s Climate Change Executive Advisory Panel and the Technical Officers Group last week came together to offer new ideas and approaches in the fight against climate change.

On Thursday morning, more than 40 officers and councillors from various services and electoral wards gathered at South Walks House in Dorchester to provide information on what Dorset Council is doing now to mitigate climate change, as well as discuss what else they could be doing and how they can influence others to “go green”.

Broken into five groups, each with a different focus – Transport; Waste and Energy; Buildings and Assets; Leadership and Influence; and Natural Environment – each group discussed and wrote their ideas down, which were gathered together and prioritised by everyone at the end of the session.

Some of the emerging themes and ideas included:

  • Smarter council officer working – using technology to encourage less staff travel
  • Support for zero carbon new-build/retro-fitted properties
  • Development of planning policy for green infrastructure
  • Sustainable procurement (i.e. “buying green”) across all DC services
  • Investment in a sustainable transport network, including electric vehicle infrastructure

Initial findings from the workshop were presented to the Climate Change Executive Advisory Panel (EAP) the following day, which agreed that focus groups would include members of the EAP and take forward the results of the workshop, looking at practical ways they can be implemented by the council.

These plans will be presented back to the panel and help form the council’s climate change strategy and action plan.

Rob Hattersley, chief executive of SafeWise, was also invited to present to the panel. Building on SafeWise’s highly successful full-size ‘learning villages’ in Bournemouth and Weymouth, where children are taught how to keep safe both outside and indoors, Rob took the panel through his ideas for teaching primary school pupils and their families about the climate emergency in a positive and practical way.

The presentation was warmly received, with cross-party members unanimously agreeing to support SafeWise’s proposal.

The panel also briefly discussed upcoming public engagement events, including a town and parish council climate change workshop and an inquiry day when members of the public and community groups will be invited to present their ideas for how the council can help tackle climate change and its impacts.

Cllr Ray Bryan, chairman of Dorset Council’s Climate Change Executive Advisory Panel, commented: “I’m extremely pleased with the progress we’re making right now. By drawing on the expertise of officers across all of Dorset Council’s services, as well as the views of elected members and the residents they represent, we’re starting to build an ambitious action plan for fighting climate change.

“We’re very much looking forward to working with Town and Parish Councils in the coming weeks, as well as inviting Dorset residents and organisations to present their ideas on how we can work together.

“There is much to be done, but I’m proud of the enthusiasm and motivation of everyone involved and have absolute confidence in our ability to change the way we deliver services and take action decisively and with real impact.”

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