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Surrey Tories called to account on Climate Change

July 31, 2006 12:00 PM

The final full Surrey County Council meeting before the summer break saw the Liberal Democrat Group call on the Tories to take urgent action to reduce Surrey's impact on climate change, publishing a plan by the end of 2006.

In a lively debate on 25th July members from across the chamber joined the Liberal Democrats in calling on the Executive to show leadership in formulating a plan of action to combat climate change.

The Tories amended the motion to include the suggestion they would be offering "continuing leadership" in the area of combating climate change and the rather vague point that "the Council recognises the progress to date and seeks a review of plans for further action."

We stuck by our original assertion that Surrey had failed in its leadership role on climate change and were lagging woefully behind other authorities. Surrey had signed up to the Aarlborg Charter & Commitments on sustainability a few years ago but there has been precious little evidence of following those commitments - we certainly don't hear about it on a regular basis. That's what we were calling for with the motion - a definitive plan that will reduce our 'ecological footprint' and give a clear timetable for action.

We also urged the Council to follow authorities like Waverley and Woking - and also Conservative county councils Kent and West Sussex - in signing up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change. The Executive are reputed to be considering it. We remain to be convinced.

For more than 10 years the Liberal Democrats at Surrey County Council have been calling for action, through motions and select committees. Energy efficiency of council buildings is one area where the Council could make a real contribution but not enough is being done. A report by officers in February 2006 showed that energy consumption across the whole council for the previous year to 18 months remained broadly unchanged. What is more, to hit the policy target of a 20% reduction by 2008/ 09 would take a more "proactive" approach. So what did Surrey County Council do two months later with the Business Delivery Review? Remove the full time post of Energy Manager.