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HBC's full council debates the climate emergency motion under the chairmanship of Mayor Nigel Sinden.

HBC’s full council debates the climate emergency motion under the chairmanship of Mayor Nigel Sinden.

Climate motion passed by HBC, but Greens disappointed

Hastings now has a climate emergency policy, following the unanimous approval given by the full council last week. A Tory amendment was voted down, and the Greens, who started the climate emergency ball rolling, declared themselves disappointed with the policy. Nick Terdre reports.

The climate emergency motion which came before the full council on Wednesday 13 February was passed by all councillors present, including the eight Tory councillors and Cllr Dany Louise, who earlier in the day had become an independent following her resignation from the Labour Party. Following an amendment tabled by the proposer, council leader Peter Chowney, Hastings now aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, without the rider of “or 2050 at the latest.”

“The amendment was because, on reflection, it made the motion less effective,” Cllr Chowney told HOT. “The idea was to provide a (dare I say it) ‘backstop’, in case the 2030 target wasn’t met. But it did give the impression that it could all be left to 2050 and it wasn’t that urgent – which of course it is.”

The Tory amendment, proposed by group leader Rob Lee, would have given priority to tree planting to absorb carbon over renewable energies. Cllr Lee also made it clear that the group stood by its opposition to plans to install solar farms in Hastings Country Park. Cllr Chowney declined to accept the motion because of the prioritisation of tree planting, and in the event the Tory amendment was supported only by the Tory group.

If Hastings has now acknowledged that urgent action to combat global warming is required, that presumably adds more weight to the case for the solar farms, despite widespread objections which have been documented in HOT. The council is still awaiting a reply from Natural England on the matter.

A demonstration called by the Greens was held outside the council offices ahead of the meeting.

A demonstration was called by the Greens outside the council offices ahead of the meeting.

Among the measures now approved are development of a procurement policy to reduce carbon emissions, a programme of sustainable energy generation on council-owned and other land and buildings, requirements that new buildings should meet the “most rigorous possible energy efficiency standards” and further development of an off-road walking and cycling network.”

The Local Plan, which is up for review this year, will be amended to permit the placing of wind turbines on the sea front, a move which Cllr Chowney said he expected to be controversial.

Climate change champion

Progress on implementing the policy will be monitored by a working group to be set up under the aegis of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, while a councillor will also be appointed as climate change champion. There is also a commitment to “work with voluntary, statutory and community organisations in the borough” – Cllr Chowney specifically mentioned Transition Town Hastings, but Energise Sussex Coast will presumably also be consulted.

Many councillors spoke to the motion, including Cllr Mike Turner, who proposed that we should moderate our diets, reducing red meat consumption by half, and Cllr Andy Patmore, who regaled the meeting with the tale of how he had slashed his electricity bill by installing low-energy light bulbs in his home, and wondered why there appeared to be no low-energy light bulbs in the council chamber. Cllr Maya Evans, who seconded the motion, also read out a passionate speech in favour.

“We’re as well equipped as we can be to tackle climate change, but it’s not something Hastings Council can achieve on its own,” Cllr Chowney told HOT. “We’ll need co-operation of ESCC, and all businesses, other public bodies, and all of us as individuals to achieve the target.

Schoolkids around the country - here in Parliament Square - took time off lessons last Friday to protest government's lack of action to combat climate change.

Schoolkids around the country – here in Parliament Square – took time off lessons last Friday to protest politicians’ lack of action to combat climate change.

“It’s also difficult when the council is facing a budget deficit of £1.7 million even after the £1 million cuts, so there isn’t any spare cash to spend on this, it all has to be done with existing (very limited) resources.

“We also need new powers from central government, and an end to policies that make tackling climate change more difficult (such as the ban on onshore wind energy generation).”

He was very pleased, he added, that the motion had cross-party support.

Lack of ambition

Hastings Green Party declared itself “’disappointed’ at the lack of ambition in the motion,” and the failure to mention the Greens’ part in bringing it about following a meeting last year between Greens’ spokesperson Julia Hilton and Labour Cllrs Evans and Heather Bishop.

“We initiated the idea of a climate emergency motion, and welcome the commitment of the council to move Hastings to being carbon neutral by 2030,” said Ms Hilton.

“However, we are disappointed with the lack of interim timescales or binding commitments in the motion. Now the council needs to take urgent action to ensure this motion has real impact.”

The party welcomed the inclusion in the motion of its suggestion that the review of the Local Plan should be used to require all new buildings to meet the most rigorous possible energy efficiency standards. “This would mean that the 500 houses that the council plans to build could have very low energy bills,” it said.

“We’re also calling on our Labour county councillors to build a consensus to bring a similar motion to East Sussex County Council so we have a county-wide commitment to urgent action on climate change,” Ms Hilton said.

Ahead of the council meeting the Greens had gathered signatures of support for a climate emergency motion from almost a thousand individuals, as well as over 70 local organisations and businesses.

 

Posted 19:39 Monday, Feb 18, 2019 In: The HOT Planet

3 Comments

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Ms. Doubtfire

    Whereabouts on the sea front does Councillor Pete Chowney intend for these wind turbines to be located? He needs to read up on the efficiency of these turbines, the cost of installation and other important factors. They are not as clever as we have been led to believe.
    And which other modifications to the ratified Local Plan has he in mind?

    Comment by Ms. Doubtfire — Thursday, Feb 28, 2019 @ 12:09

  2. Rachel Lever

    I would like to see “council owned land and buildings” extended to an audit of all buildings in the borough that could retro-fit PV roof panels. These are very much better sited on warehousing, supermarkets, and commercial and industrial buildings on trading estates all over the town, than on domestic homes. HBC and ESCC could surely offer inducements and incentives for this, and if PV panels save home-owners’ energy bills, why are they not doing so for Tesco and TK Max?

    Comment by Rachel Lever — Monday, Feb 25, 2019 @ 15:18

  3. Em

    Start with banning all single use plastics and polystyrene immediately – support recyclable packaging – even the college uses polystyrene – not very good example for students … these councillors need to look at permaculture principles and understand what can be achieved with cooperation and willingness – involving public – encouraging local groups / schools, college, businesses to go green

    Comment by Em — Thursday, Feb 21, 2019 @ 09:29

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