EAST Hampshire District Council has pledged to make its services carbon neutral by 2035.
But questions have been raised about the motion’s “cross-party” input and the potential cost of the green dream to taxpayers.
The four-point motion to bring forward EHDC’s climate target by 15 years was approved by councillors after a lengthy two-hour debate.
The first is a pledge for EHDC to become carbon neutral across all its operations by 2035, while the second calls for the release of an “effective, robust plan” by February 1 with its contents determined by a carbon audit.
The third point calls on EHDC to develop a way to actively measure carbon within its operations, and the fourth is to provide community leadership to deliver carbon reductions across the district.
Councillor Ginny Boxall, who put forward the three-page motion, called for a “more ambitious plan” to deal with the climate emergency before accusing previous administrations of “kicking the can” with its pledges.
But it was hardly a smooth process with Rob Mocatta and EHDC leader Richard Millard questioning the term ‘cross party’ when the Conservatives were not involved in the motion’s creation.
He said: “There was no cross-party working on this at all.
“We will support it, and we will support it any way we can. But to do that we need to stop the high level and low level political infighting.”
While he supported the idea of a carbon audit, Cllr Nick Drew fears the council won’t be able to deliver the “wishlist”, adding: “We have to be responsible as we have limited resources and morals have a cost.”
A carbon audit has since been commissioned with the results expected to feed into an updated climate and environment strategy for the next 12 years. It will contain short and long-term targets.
In the end the motion was unanimously approved, aside from one abstention, with the move being welcomed by the Liberal Democrats, Whitehill & Bordon Community Party Group and Greens. Representatives from the Alton and Petersfield Climate Action Networks are also pleased with the result.
“PeCAN looks forward to supporting EHDC in revising and delivering its climate strategy,” said Greg Ford, chair of trustees.
“We are ready to help in a number of areas from nature recovery to retrofitting, as well as engaging with the public to influence behaviour change.”