Havering climate change plan adopted despite opposition criticism

Havering Town Hall

Havering Council's Climate Change Action Plan was approved at a meeting of full council - Credit: Ken Mears

A climate change plan with targets of net-zero by 2040 has been approved despite some criticism that the proposals are not detailed enough.

Havering Council's Climate Change Action Plan, which sets out measures the authority is proposing to reduce emissions, was debated at a full council meeting on November 17.

The net-zero target is ten years ahead of that set by the government.

Council leader Damian White said the Conservative administration was determined to tackle the climate crisis but opposition leader Ray Morgon felt the plan was "just a massive wishlist" and did not explain how it would be funded.

A council report included government figures from 2019 which suggested the transport sector accounts for almost half of carbon dioxide emissions in the borough.

Among proposals to reduce transport emissions is a review of the borough's vehicle fleet and ensuring none are diesel-powered, developing a cycling and walking strategy and planting at least 250 trees a year on council land.

The council also plans to improve its resilience and response to climate change-related events such as flooding and review its capital spending strategy to support net-zero emissions.

Cllr White admitted the council would not fulfil all of its proposals.

Councillor Damian White, leader of Havering Council. Picture: Mark Sepple/Havering Council

Council leader Damian White - Credit: Mark Sepple

He said: "What we are seeking to do in this report is not to provide all the solutions and have an oven-baked recipe as to what we're going to do to resolve this climate change situation across Havering.

Most Read

"This is a first attempt. Without having a plan, all that's going to happen is no progress is going to be made."

But Labour group leader Keith Darvill felt the proposals were light on detail.

He said his group was in favour of a climate action plan but said it would be voting against because the council's one "is not good enough".

Cllr Keith Darvill

Cllr Keith Darvill - Credit: Archant

Cllr Morgon said measures needed to be given a priority order.

He added: "This borough is becoming overdeveloped. We're going to have more housing, more infrastructure, more everything and at the same time, we're going to greener? That's the big problem, that's the contradiction.

"More building is going to create more emissions."

Cllr Ray Morgon said he did not see how the HSE could be sure it was getting the full picture.

Cllr Ray Morgon said he did not see how the HSE could be sure it was getting the full picture. - Credit: Archant

Elm Park ward councillor Stephanie Nunn, also of Residents' Group led by Cllr Morgon, told the meeting: "No costings, no priorities, no cross-party working, no scrutiny, no thanks."

An amendment was proposed by the Independent Residents' Group (IRG), which called the action plan "too bureaucratic and costly to be adopted".

Its leader Jeffrey Tucker asked whether the timing was right for the plan and questioned details on spending.

"I'm a big supporter of climate change but is it the right time (to adopt the plan) when we've just come out of this pandemic?

"This borough is still holding on at the seams."

Cllr White said it would cost more than £10m to achieve its target but that it was a cost the council "cannot shy away from".

Fellow Conservative councillor Dilip Patel added: "I think we owe it to our children and our grandchildren to make a start and money should not be weighed against people's health."

Cllrs Morgon and Darvill felt the item should be deferred due to it being called in for consideration by the overview and scrutiny committee.

Cllr Darvill believed the decision to consider the action plan at full council undermined the call-in process and would "prejudice" future debate.

But a monitoring officer ruled the issue could be debated separately from that process.

Cllr White said opposition councillors could form a topic group and compile their own report to go to cabinet.

"It's always easy to take a pot shot from the sidelines and to criticise and try to undermine when you're not prepared to do the heavy lifting yourself."

The action plan was adopted by 28 votes to 14 with eight abstentions, while the IRG amendment was rejected by 28 votes to nine with 12 abstentions.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter