Council the first in county to declare climate emergency

The North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) offices in Cromer. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) offices in Cromer. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk council has become the first in the county to declare a state of climate emergency and acknowledge the 'devastating impact' of global warming.

At a packed meeting of North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) yesterday, councillors were applauded after they unanimously agreed to declare a Climate Emergency and recognise 'the devastating impacts' of global temperature change.

Karen Ward, district councillor for Glaven Valley, proposed the motion which will see NNDC work with the public and private sector to 'play its role in helping the UK to deliver the commitments made at the 2015 Paris Summit'.

Ms Ward said: 'This needed to be a full council discussion and debate because this will affect not only all of us in this chamber but our children and grandchildren.

'We're asking for council's support to declare a Climate Emergency, which means we need to take urgent action.'

Seconding the motion, Nigel Lloyd, district councillor for North Walsham North, added: 'I hope members had the opportunity to listen to Greta Thunberg who was in London talking to our politicians. She's done so much and she's only 15.'

Mr Lloyd added: 'We have only 12 years to take urgent action.

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'If we let global warming go beyond 1.5 degrees, it could force the planet into a tipping point which would have devastating effects on coastal communities.'

But councillors including Tom Fitzpatrick, district councillor for Walsingham, and Judy Oliver, district councillor for Sheringham South, argued for a motion in line with the county council's climate policy to be passed at a later date.

Speaking after the motion passed, Mr Fitzpatrick said: 'I think it would be good for all the councils in Norfolk to speak with one voice - the important thing is we work together.'

Elaine Addison, who spoke on behalf of the North Norfolk Constituency Labour Party (NNCLP), said: 'The NNCLP wholeheartedly supports the motion for NNDC to declare a climate emergency.

'This is by far the biggest threat to humanity that we have ever faced. The gravity of the situation is stark because without a habitable planet no one will be in control.

'The increasing demand for fewer and fewer resources will impact on everyone eventually, regardless of our social or economic status.'

After the motion passed, Miss Addison added: 'We're delighted that the NNCLP influenced the debate and was quoted in the summing up, and that the motion passed unanimously.'

Councillors also heard a report on the Bacton netting controversy, which saw NNDC criticised for placing netting to dissuade sand martins from nesting on the cliffs ahead of the works beginning on the Bacton and Walcott coastal management sandscaping scheme.

Angie Fitch-Tillett, coastal portfolio holder, said: 'Removal of the higher level netting was undertaken between April 10-16.

'NNDC is committed to conserving and improving biodiversity wherever possible.'

But she emphasised the 'vital' importance of the scheme as a protective measure for 300 homes and said it had been developed 'as a result of the devastating storm surges of 2013.'