DORSET Council has said its strategy to tackle to climate change emergency is “almost ready”.
Members of the council’s Climate Change and Ecological Emergency Executive Advisory Panel (EAP) met virtually last Friday to discuss the progress of their strategy and action plan.
The decision to form a strategy came after the council declared a climate and ecological emergency in May last year.
The panel were reassured that, despite delays due to the pandemic, good progress had been made towards the first draft of the climate change strategy and action plan, and the meeting worked through the detail of several topic areas.
Further work on the strategy would be ready soon for the EAP to discuss, develop and refine before it goes to Cabinet and is published for consultation with the public later in the summer.
Panel chairman Cllr Ray Bryan also announced that the council intended to switch to a renewable ‘green’ energy tariff from September, and expressed that this was just one of many short-term changes that could be made while longer-term plans were being developed. This will include the council actively looking for its own sources of renewable energy in the future.
Papers covering the parts of the strategy relating to buildings, waste and energy and planning were considered, with brief outlines of other topics that were in progress, including transport, food and drink, land use, energy generation and the economy. These will presented to the next EAP meeting.
Panel members also considered a full summary report of the ‘Call for Ideas’, when Dorset Council asked members of the public for their ideas to tackle climate change. The summary report has been uploaded to the Dorset Council website, and those ideas are being considered alongside the findings of the council’s Task and Finish groups.
Members also briefly discussed disposable barbecues, regarding the recent devastating heathland fires in Wareham Forest, and how both officers and councillors were looking into what Dorset Council could do to raise awareness of the dangers and potentially restrict their purchase and use.
Cllr Ray Bryan, panel chair and portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “Despite the delays we’ve had due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m satisfied that most of the background work that needed to take place before we could draft our climate change strategy has now been completed.
“This means we’re almost ready to start committing to some carbon reduction targets and deadlines, and set out how we intend to achieve these. Some will be actions that can be taken in the short-term, like switching to a ‘green’ energy tariff, but others will take longer and potentially require funding. We will investigate how we can do this, potentially in partnership with the private sector.
“I’d like to thank everyone for their patience. As I’ve stated before, while other councils around the country may have chosen to set deadlines for carbon reduction and then work out how they’ll achieve them, I’ve always wanted us to do the investigation and information-gathering first so that any setting of target dates is both realistic and achievable. We have carbon reductions targets in mind but need the final pieces in the jigsaw before firming these up.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the final papers to develop the draft strategy and being able to share it with my fellow councillors before presenting it to the public for their thoughts and comments.”