September 20, 2019 1.37 pm This story is over 33 months old

Parts of North East Lincolnshire could “disappear underwater” as climate emergency declared

Some councillors felt the motion was not needed

“Bits of this borough could disappear underwater,” councillors at North East Lincolnshire were warned as they declared a climate emergency.

Liberal Democrat leader Ian Barfield put forward the motion to full council which requires the authority to consider the impact of climate change on future policy decisions.

Pointing to policies around school journeys, building contracts and alternative transport, Mr Barfield said: “There are numerous examples the council’s work that could be turned to helping the environment rather than destroying it.”

Councillors acknowledged the authority had already undertaken a number of initiatives over recent years including installing solar panels and more efficient boilers in buildings and join the smart energy programme.

However, they urged the council to become a “leader” in the debate against climate change.

Labour Councillor Chris Nichols said: “The public is way ahead of politicians in recognising the scale of the climate crisis.

Our leaders must take swift action so environmental pressures do not become a source of hostility, anger and competition in our societies. We all must play our part.

Those against the plans however said that although they did not deny climate change were was “a lot of debate about the cause”.

Deputy Conservative leader Councillor John Fenty, who has the responsibility for renewables in his portfolio, said he disputed “the need to spend or waste billions trying to prove something that has been going on for billions of years”.

“Climate change is normal,” he said.

However, he also noted the moves the council had made, and said he had asked for council buildings to be EPC rated to clarify their performance.

In the safe hands of this administration, North East Lincolnshire will never be in a climate emergency.

He said the authority would be “carbon responsible” and  called the motion “utter nonsense and not relevant to this chamber.”

A Labour amendment, which would have placed additional responsibilities on the council was rejected.

Party leader Matthew Patrick said the issues was “a huge challenge that we all face, man made climate change is real and is accelerating at a staggering pace.”

The motion was passed with a vote of 25 for and 12 against.

More than 100 authorities across the UK, including some in Lincolnshire, have passed motions declaring a climate emergency.

Council leader Philip Jackson giving his leaders’ speech at the full council meeting last night. Photo: Daniel Jaines

MPs made their own declaration in May, although it did not legally require the government to act.

Two councils in Lincolnshire have already declared a climate emergency in recent months.

Both North Kesteven District Council and City of Lincoln Council made the declarations in July.

South Kesteven District Council is expected to table a motion to declare a climate emergency at its full council meeting later this month having already passed it at cabinet.

Meanwhile, Boston Borough Council agreed instead to set up a task and finish group to investigate how best to move forward.

SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from coverage every week, as well as insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.