Northumberland County Council leader defends climate change action after 'meaningless posturing' comments

The leader of Northumberland County Council said that actions to tackle the climate emergency it has declared will have a positive impact on residents and are not just ‘meaningless posturing’.

Friday, 6th September 2019, 06:00 am
Updated Friday, 6th September 2019, 08:44 am
Northumberland County Council's County Hall

The authority declared a climate emergency in June, vowing to half the authority’s carbon footprint by 2025 as well as making Northumberland carbon-neutral by 2030.

At a full council meeting on September 4, Coun Georgina Hill, the independent ward member for Berwick East, asked: “How would you respond to those residents who are saying that they have much more pressing, everyday emergencies and problems to deal with, such as how they can pay all their household bills, and that this is all meaningless posturing?”

Council leader Peter Jackson said that the initiatives which will be included in the forthcoming action plan ‘actually will affect people in our communities in a positive way’.

Council leader Peter Jackson

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“For example, we’re looking at fuel poverty; how we can make energy more affordable to people across this county, particularly those in harder-to-reach communities.

“We’re looking at procurement and how we can make local procurement more effective and that should change our footprint in climate terms.

“We’re looking at asset management, income generation and cost reductions so we can make ourselves more efficient by cutting some of the things that we’re doing now that aren’t really justified.

“We’re looking at the planning system, how we can make new buildings more efficient. We’re looking at housing, at how we can help existing householders and owners to make their properties much more fuel-efficient.

Coun Georgina Hill

“So you can see there’s a whole load of ways that we can have a win-win; a win for the county council, a win for residents across the county and a win for the environment, so I just hope we’re all behind that and I think we are.”

Earlier in his response, Coun Jackson had said: “We did debate long and hard and we’ve been quite public about declaring a climate emergency and I think there’s quite a degree of cross-party support for that.”

“That’s because we take our stewardship of our county very seriously indeed and we’re absolutely determined that this council will have less of an impact on our Northumberland environment when we leave it than when we took it on, that’s a strong feeling that we have.

“We also think that this council is in a position to provide community leadership on this.”

He added that it’s also a national and international issue, but ‘if you don’t start on a granular, individual level, you’ll get nowhere’.

“We will do our very best to lobby the Government to make sure that we have the tools nationwide but also in Northumberland to deal with climate issues.”

As a follow-up, Coun Hill said that in relation to ‘policy matching rhetoric’, she was calling for the issue of Berwick taxi drivers having to go to Alnwick for MOT and compliance testing to be looked at again.

Coun Jackson said that this matter had been raised and taken up before, but he said the council would take another look.