Climate Action Network calls for faster action from Dorset Council

climate planDORSET Climate Action Network (CAN) has called on Dorset Council to act far more rapidly than it had planned to cut greenhouse gases and stop the loss of wildlife.

The council, in its draft Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy published last November, set 2040 as the target for cutting its own carbon emissions to zero, and 2050 for all other organisations in the Dorset Council area.

Dorset CAN says that this timetable grossly under-estimates the true emergency facing the world. It calls on the council to fix 2030 as the date by which the whole of the Dorset Council geographical area should achieve zero carbon emissions and broadly reverse the loss of wildlife.

Professor Michael Dower said: “Scientists worldwide are telling us that immediate action must be taken to prevent the planet’s natural systems from spiralling out of control as multiple tipping points are reached and passed, and to stop the planet becoming a ‘Hothouse Earth’.

“They say that every country and all levels of government should aim to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

“Other councils in this region, for example Wiltshire and Cornwall, have got that message and are working urgently towards 2030 as the target for net zero. Dorset Council should rise to the challenge in the same way.”

In its formal response to a public consultation on the Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy, co-signed by more than 20 community organisations, Dorset CAN spells out practical ways to tackle the climate crisis, and offers to play an active part in the partnership that Dorset Council will need to forge with all stakeholders.

They say the council should agree a vision with all stakeholders of what we could look like in 2013. Dorset CAN proposes a series of major themes for the work of the council over the next 10 crucial years, including:

  • Dorset Council to become the first Zero-Carbon council area in the UK, having radically reduced its energy demands and moved wholly to renewable energy supply
  • A Dorset Lifelines programme of widespread nature recovery to halt and substantially reverse the loss of wildlife
  • An ambitious Swim Dorset Council programme to make every river and stream in Dorset Council area safe for children to play and swim, and to make the water at every beach safe for residents and tourists alike
  • A Regenerative Dorset Council programme to transform the local economy to be green, sustainable in use of resources, with a strong dimension of local self-sufficiency – notably in food – and of circular activity including use of local timber in new buildings
  • A Clean Dorset Council programme, to cut levels of air pollution to well below statutory limits, eliminate all single-use plastic and achieve the highest levels of waste reduction, re-use and recycling in the UK
  • A Planning for Resilience programme to achieve high levels of resilience in its communities, focused on high standards in all housing and on easy access between houses, jobs and services
  • A Dorset Council Local Action Partnership, through which the Dorset Council offers pump-priming grants to town and parish councils and community-based groups for climate and ecology projects

It’s not just the groups supporting Dorset CAN who feel that Dorset Council’s carbon targets are not ambitious enough. As well as pulling together their submission on the strategy and action plan consultation, Dorset CAN has been running a public petition on the proposed targets.

The petition calls on Dorset Council to be more ambitious and have all its own assets carbon neutral by 2030. Almost 1,500 members of the public have so far signed the petition.

The petition will continue to run before it is formally presented to Dorset Council. In the meantime it has also been submitted to Dorset Council as part of the strategy consultation, which closed on Wednesday night.

Independent councillors call for climate emergency procurement model

Dorset Council’s independent movement – All For Dorset – has also called for the authority to pioneer a new local climate emergency procurement model.

Responding to the climate change consultation, All for Dorset said a step change in its procurement policy could substantially enhance the local economy.

A statement from the All for Dorset group said: “The principle thing that is missing is the ‘how’ we do things, and not the ‘what’. Council procurement of £108million could make a big difference to the local economy.

“Innovation partnerships are a procurement process that can be more collaborative than competitive. Establishing a Climate Emergency Innovation Partnership would enable local businesses and social enterprises to work together to create local, closed loop systems throughout the supply chain. It could produce a wave of new local enterprises and employment.

“Now we are out of Europe, new procurement rules could be established. Innovation Partnerships are the nearest we have in current procurement law to enable this without having to develop a new process.

“But a new process is what is really needed which would lead to quicker and better solutions being delivered. Dorset could pioneer a new local climate emergency procurement model.”

All for Dorset, which has four independent councillors on the local authority, would also like to see Dorset Council’s commitments to reduce carbon emissions brought forward from 2040 to 2030, highlighting the need for urgent action.

Councillor Les Fry (Dorchester West) highlighted the key issues the group would like to see addressed. These were as follows:

  • All new developments should be zero carbon. It should be mandatory to fit solar panels and have water harvesting with air or ground source heating systems installed.
  • Householders should be encouraged to retro fit solar panels but a financial incentive needs to be created.
  • More needs to be done on Dorset’s tenant farms estate including solar installations, tree planting and opportunities for ground source heating l Make more use of free power from tidal and wind energy for power generation.
  • Encourage farmers to use fewer pesticides to ensure there is less nitrate run-off which is affecting our natural environment l Look at all options for renewable transport, including electric and hydrogen
  • It should be mandatory for council transport to switch off their engines when stationary to help cut down on particulates and greenhouse gases.

Council receives £19m government funding to reduce carbon footprint

Government funding of £19million has been won by Dorset Council to help the authority reduce its carbon footprint.

The figure was announced by climate brief holder Cllr Ray Bryan at this week’s Cabinet meeting. He said he had few details at the moment but would be giving more information when it became available.

The funding included £18.7million to pay for work which would help the council achieve its aim of reducing its carbon footprint, and £298,000 from the low carbon skills fund, which would also help the council towards its zero carbon objective by 2040.

Cllr Bryan has previously said that the council would need to gain at least £30million in grant funding if it was to meet its climate targets.

He said that as soon as lockdown was relaxed he would meet with ministers in London to ask for further funding for the county.

Cllr Bryan also revealed that about 1,700 people had taken part in the council’s climate and ecological emergency consultation, which closed this week.

“Our communications team has done a fantastic job in keeping this to the forefront of people’s minds,” he said.

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