Council asks for more ‘eco powers’ from government following protest

PUBLISHED: 08:39 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:39 21 February 2020

L-R: Councillor Richard Freeman and Cllr John Lodge welcome the youth climate protesters to a meeting at Uttlesford District Council (UDC). Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

L-R: Councillor Richard Freeman and Cllr John Lodge welcome the youth climate protesters to a meeting at Uttlesford District Council (UDC). Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

Archant

Uttlesford District Council (UDC) calls on the national government to give stronger powers to local authorities. The move would allow UDC to act quickly on climate change, according to the Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) administration.

The call comes following a youth protest against climate change, Strike for Solutions, which was held on February 14 in Saffron Walden.

During the event, 18-year-old co-organiser Olivia Whittle said the district council is not committed enough to tackling climate change - and demanded action, not words.

She said: "We are all aware of the catastrophic effects of climate change. And there is not enough commitment to change from UDC. We are sick of people telling us they will make it better and not committing to it."

In response, R4U Councillor John Lodge, UDC leader, and Cllr Richard Freeman, council chair, welcomed the protesters at the council offices on the day. Now, UDC has committed to urging the secretary of state for more powers for local authorities when it comes to eco-agendas, and has dedicated more youth seats on the local climate working group.

Cllr John Lodge said: "We applaud the commitment our youth have in supporting this critical issue. It is clear that they want visible local action.

"At the meeting, we committed to two additional permanent youth seats on the council's climate change working group, which was set up by R4U councillors at the end of last year. The working group involves a range of community members and councillors who scope, prioritise, and recommend eco initiatives to the council. It is important that the next generation is fully represented."

Cllr Lodge added that his council is "probably the most eco-progressive" in the UK and has started to tackle the biggest three environmental issues it identified: air quality, carbon reduction and biodiversity.

"Instead of more hollow targets, what we actually need from central government is responsible legislation and localised powers and budgets to enable councils to act quickly and decisively on climate change. After the youth climate protest I have committed to write to the new secretary of state for the environment to demand the government do more, and I urge the protesters to do the same," Cllr Lodge said.

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