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Climate emergency declared by Powys

Created on 02/08/2020 @ 08:16
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

A climate Emergency Declaration has been voted through by Powys County Councillors (PCC), but it only came after a motion to postpone the declaration for six months was voted down by PCC chairman, Cllr Beverley Baynham’s casting vote.

The online voting system also caused confusion with councillors having to check that they had voted as they intended. Those for the original motion had to vote against the deferral, and vice versa.

The motion had been brought to the full council meeting, on Thursday by Cllr Jake Berriman, who also wanted to see Powys become a net zero carbon authority by 2030.

Cllr Michael Williams, who represents Machynlleth, where the Town Council became the first in Wales to declare a climate emergency back in January 2019, said: “As the world stands now, I equate it to mankind moving along an edge of a cliff, and a step the wrong side of that cliff will take us to a place where we will never revive from.

“We must ensure that there is a bright and meaningful future for our young people and generations to come.”

But, Conservative cabinet members Cllrs James Evans and Aled Davies, wanted to see more work done on costs.

Portfolio holder for Economic Development, Housing and Regulatory Services, Cllr Evans said said: “Declaring a climate emergency is not going to solve the problem, we already have a cross party working group and a date in the diary. I would like to see that group meet and come up with some fully costed proposals. Bring those back to full council to make an informed decisions.

“We seem to be making a decision on the hoof without understanding how much it will cost us.”

Cllr Amanda Jenner asked if her fellow Tories’ comments were a definite proposal?

She said: “I would not want to see the sentiment of the motion lost if it was voted down.”

Head of legal services Clive Pinney explained that the “deferral” could be a motion to “refer” the declaration to the working group which is set to meet in August.

Cllr Jenner said she was willing to put that proposal forward.

Cllr Jackie Charlton, who seconded Cllr Berriman’s motion, said: “It’s very disappointing. By deferring it for six months you’re kicking the can down the road, it’s pointless bringing this back in six months and declaring a climate emergency when we could do that today and set other things in motion.

“There is nothing in this motion that will cost us anything, so I don’t understand that argument.”

·      The first vote was tied at 28 votes for and against, with two abstentions and decided by chairman’s casting vote.

·      The second vote, on the declaration motion was passed with 29 votes for 20 against and four abstentions.

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