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'Time is running out' - Council urged to become second in Norfolk to declare climate emergency

PUBLISHED: 16:34 04 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:35 04 September 2019

Breckland Councillor for Thetford Priory Susan Dowling. Photo: Breckland Council

Breckland Councillor for Thetford Priory Susan Dowling. Photo: Breckland Council

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Breckland Council is being urged to become the second of Norfolk's district councils to declare a climate emergency.

While the state of the environment is regularly debated in council chambers across the county, North Norfolk District Council remains the only one to formally declare a climate emergency.

However, later this month, Breckland could follow suit, with a motion set to be tabled by the Labour group calling for it to do it.

The calls are being led by Thetford Priory councillor Susan Dowling, who said the council needs to put the climate at the forefront of everything it does in future.

She said: "Time is running out for climate change, there is plastic in the ocean and the rainforests are on fire, so we have to act now.

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"By declaring a climate emergency it will mean that the council will have to start considering the impact on the environment as part of all of our work, which has not always happened in the past.

"We all try to think about the climate in our work, but in years gone by it has felt like something of a side issue, when it is way past that now."

The motion calls on the council to ramp up its work to combat climate change through a range of methods, including improving educational work to improve "carbon literacy" of its citizens and work towards making the council itself carbon neutral by 2030.

Alison Webb, cabinet member for the environment on the Conservative-led council, said she felt it would be inappropriate for her to comment on the motion until it is formally tabled, when the council meets later this month.

It comes after a group of environmental lawyers from ClientEarth penned a letter to 105 local authorities across the country warning of legal measures if more is not done to address climate change in future.

Breckland, however, was the one second-tier council in Norfolk not included in the letter, which claimed the authorities risk legal challenge if proper climate change plans are not introduced.

The motion will be debated by councillors on Thursday, September 19.

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