No climate emergency for Havering but councillors will review environmental protection policies

Havering's Extinction Rebellion group campaigned outside town hall on Wednesday, July 10 in the hope

Havering's Extinction Rebellion group campaigned outside town hall on Wednesday, July 10 in the hopes that the council would declare a climate emergency. Picture: April Roach - Credit: Archant

Havering councillors have voted against declaring a climate emergency but accepted a motion for the council to renew its policies regarding environmental protection.

Havering's Extinction Rebellion (XR) protestors gathered outside the town hall on Wednesday, July 10, ahead of a full council meeting.

Parliament approved a motion for the UK to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency in May this year.

The XR campaigners were hoping that the Upminster and Cranham Residents' Group's motion for the local authority to declare a climate emergency would be passed at the meeting.

Amongst the residents' groups requests, were for the cabinet to initiate a full environmental audit of the council to measure its carbon footprint, to improve the council's recycling rate to reach the target of 55per cent by 2025 and to set up a Councillor Working Party.

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The party would have various tasks including creating a report with an action plan to address the climate emergency and incorporating proposals on the investment implications of this proposed activity.

At the meeting, the Residents' Group's amendment did not carry, with 30 votes against, 17 in favour and four councillors abstaining.

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Councillor Gillian Ford said: "There has been a top down recognition of the pressure to act now on climate change.

"104 councils have already declared a climate change emergency, 13 of those being in London.

"We need to empower our residents and their role in a circular economy approach, with recycling, reusing and repairing.

"Havering is the first local authority not to adopt a climate emergency motion."

Noleen O' Leary, who setup the Havering XR group, said: "We are gutted, however it makes us want to fight Havering Council more and bring more education and awareness to our residents about the climate and ecological emergency we are in.

"We won't stop until council declares a climate emergency, acts upon it, creates a citizen's assembly for climate and ecological debate and is carbon neutral."

Councillors also voted for a motion on behalf of the Labour Group which called on the authority to review its policies to ensure that Havering leads the way on environmental protection.

This motion carried with 48 votes in favour and just three against.

Cllr Keith Darvill, leader of the Labour group, said: "We think every council should be reviewing their policies because of the higher public concern and because we're not getting the information quickly enough to make progress.

"We could be doing more to improve the quality of our air. We've got all of the statistics about poor air quality.

"We think we can do the work in the council to modify this and we want to work with all of the environmental groups."

An amendment was also put forward by the Independent Residents' Group which stated that calls for a climate emergency were misplaced because man-made climate change is an "elementary scam".

The amendment said that to believe man-made carbon dioxide emissions determine climate is a religious rather than scientific conviction.

However this amendment did not carry with only three councillors voting in favour of it.

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