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CLIMATE CHANGE: Debate ruled unconstitutional

CLIMATE CHANGE: Debate ruled unconstitutional

A DEBATE over whether to commit the whole county to targets to reduce greenhouse gases will not be had until next year after it was declared against council rules.

Worcestershire County Council was due to discuss a motion which called for countywide – not just council – carbon emission targets to be put in place to help cut greenhouse gases but the debate was never had after it was ruled unconstitutional.

The call came following the county council’s decision to declare a climate emergency in July which acknowledges the need to act on the causes and impacts of climate change and commits the authority’s to reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

The motion, put forward by the council’s Green and Independent councillors, called for targets to be put in place for the whole county which would work towards the government’s ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 78 per cent by 2035.

Council rules prohibit ‘similar’ motions from being discussed again within six months of a decision being made which means the debate cannot be had until at least January 2022.

Green councillor Matthew Jenkins said he was “extremely disappointed” by the decision – especially as the motion had been pre-approved by councillor officers before the meeting.

“We were told it was fine and it wouldn’t be rejected so we put the motion in and now it has been rejected,” he said during a meeting at County Hall on Thursday (September 9).

“You have put us in an impossible position.”

Cllr Marc Bayliss, who called for the motion to be ditched, said: “I believe this motion is materially the same as that one which was debated on July 15.

“In particular, this motion asks us to develop countywide targets, the last motion asked us to ensure more ambitious targets; this motion asks us to prepare a member advisory group, the last one asked us to establish a member advisory group, which we agreed, the dates of 2035 for carbon neutrality were debated and dismissed in the last motion and I therefore believe that this motion is out of order.”

Council chief executive Paul Robinson said: “The key point really is that once a motion has been ‘disposed’ of by the council, it shall not be open to any councillor to propose a similar motion.

“It’s not a maybe, it’s an absolute, it says ‘shall not.’ On this occasion I would say this should not be allowed.”

Words: Christian Barnett, Local Democracy Reporting Service

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