Agenda item


To consider a motion, proposed by Cllr Osbourne at Council July 2023 and subsequently referred to the Place and Environment O&S Panel. Members must consider the resolutions contained within the Motion.


Cllr S Osborne presented her motion to the Panel, originally submitted to Council seeking NFDC’s support for the proposed Climate and Ecology Bill. Cllr Osborne read the motion in full and was invited to explain the motion and her reasons for submitting it. The main points were as follows:


·       NFDC had declared a climate emergency in October 2021, with a Climate Change and Nature Action Plan agreed in February 2023.

·       Current global temperatures were 1.2 degrees centigrade higher than pre-industrial levels.

·       According to YouGov, 66% of voters were concerned by climate change; with this being of particular importance to local residents given the New Forest’s unique natural makeup.

·       NFDC considers the climate impact in all of its decisions, and a Climate Change Manager had been appointed to address this specific issue.

·       237 local authorities across the country were in support of the Climate and Ecology Bill.


The Climate Change Manager summarised the contextual covering report, highlighting the main points:


·       Until such time as an action strategy is drafted it is unknown what the details are on implementation of the Climate and Ecology Bill at a local level. The financial or physical impact on the Council is currently unknown.

·       However, there is an acknowledgement that nationally, the UK is falling behind its legislated targets and is significantly off track on the delivery of the required actions.

·       The Climate and Ecology Bill seeks to strengthen existing commitments and deliver a greater impact in a shorter point of time than is currently happening.

·       The Climate and Ecology Bill strategy nor action plan have yet been agreed.

·       Businesses, Councils and academics have voiced support for the principles of the Bill.

·       NFDC’s Climate and Nature Action Plan was agreed in February 2023 and is currently in place for delivery.


The Panel were invited to make comments and ask questions regarding the motion, the main contributions from members were as follows:


·       A member raised concern on the practicality and the cost implications of supporting the Bill in its current form, given that it had not been approved by parliament nor had a strategy been finalised. It was suggested that a task and finish group be created to monitor the progress of the Climate and Ecology Bill’s progress through parliament and explore the detail of the Bill more closely.

·       A Panel member referenced the numerous natural disasters and severe weather that had been experienced around the globe. The unique natural makeup of the Forest meant that severe weather, similar to that experienced elsewhere in the world, would have major implications for the District. The member encouraged the Panel to work outside of the current consensus in order to aim for stricter environmental targets. The Panel member stated that practical strategies were needed at a national level and support for the motion would put pressure on the Government to improve their …

·       UK flying insects had declined by 60% between 2004-2021, demonstrating the destruction of biodiversity in the country over the last 20 years.

·       Reference was made to the fact the Bill was awaiting its second reading in the House of Commons. A Panel member expressed reluctance to commit to the Bill whilst it is in this position of progress in Parliament. Further support for a Task and Finish Group to be created was given by the Panel member.

·       The Panel heard from one member that precipitation levels would increase 7% per year for every degree increase in global temperatures. Reference to the economy’s reliance on the environment was given.

·       A Panel member explained that currently, in Parliament, 168 MPs support the Bill currently whilst 482 MPs do not.


It was proposed and seconded that the Panel support the motion in full and recommend to Council that they resolve to implement and action the four points contained within the motion. After more discussion, it was proposed by other members of the Panel that, with regard to the concerns raised during the discussion, that the Panel give its support to the motion in principle and recommend to Council that a Task and Finish Group is created to monitor the progress of the Bill through Parliament and explore the details of the Bill more closely.


The meeting was adjourned by the Chairman so that clarity could be sought by Officers on the procedure, given that there was not consensus among the Panel. Once correct advice was sought it was explained that, as per the Council’s rules of debate for meetings (Standing Order No. 48), an amendment shall, if it is carried, take the place of the original motion. The Chairman proposed an amendment to the original motion, which was seconded by the Vice-Chairman. The amendment was carried following a unanimous vote in support.




That the Panel:


i)               endorses the motion in principle and;


ii)              recommends to Full Council that a Task and Finish Group be created to monitor the progress of the Climate and Ecology Bill through Parliament and explore the detail of the Bill.

Supporting documents: