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Dover and Deal Green Party sparks Dover District Council debate, and cross-party commitments on climate emergency

Green party members holding up signs stating '12 years to act', 'Climate emergency', 'Dover Carbon Neutral for 2030', 'Act Now'.
Dover and Deal Green Party members including local Mill Hill Councillor Mike Eddy campaign at Dover District Council for cross-party action to address the climate emergency

On 6 March, John Lonsdale and Sarah Gleave of Dover district’s Green Party put in a formal question to the Dover District Council (DDC) Conservative Cabinet, appealing for them to act now on the Climate Emergency in the interests of young Dovorians.

As Sir David Attenborough and the IPCC say, we have only 12 years to reduce the climate crisis.

Following up on their appeal, Green Party Councillor Mike Eddy (Mill Hill, Deal) put forward an amendment to the DDC budget. He recommended that £200,000 of the DDC reserves be invested, half in the 19/20 budget and half in the 20/21 budget, for the investment in a 100 panel solar car park canopy so that DDC could cut fuel emissions and cut fuel costs, and so that the next fleet of DDC vehicles could be recharged from the canopy.

Mike Eddy said:
“We were glad that both the Leader of the Council, Cllr Morris and the Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Mills, at Dover District Council accepted the principle of the Green Party’s budget amendment. For a relatively small investment, we can save something like £25,000 per year. We can put the savings on the Council’s electricity bill towards investment in electric council vehicles and electric charging points. This is a win-win for council tax payers. It is unfortunate that we can’t get on with this straightaway. We are in a climate emergency after all. But the commitment from two major parties means we should get there soon. ” 

Examples of actions that have been taken elsewhere and which could be taken in Dover District which were referred to at the Council meeting included:

  • Section 106 agreements for any new-build out-of-town developments to discourage 2 and 3 car ownership by forcing developers to include electric car clubs and cycle and walking paths (as has been done in Woking).
  • Bus Rapid Transit schemes using newer cleaner vehicles to discourage private car use.
  • Refitting social housing and fitting solar panels so that tenants have lower fuel bills (as Kirklees Borough Council have done on hundreds of homes – as Mid-Devon District Council have done also).

Question to leader put by Sarah Gleave of Dover and Deal Green Party:
“Young people and their parents in Dover District are aware we have just 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate change by limiting global warming to below 1.5°C.

Sir David Attenbrough and the IPCC report make this plain. By the time young Dovorians grow up it will be too late.

It is worse than when KCC said some years ago, ‘Climate change is likely to affect flood risk through sea level rise, more frequent and higher storm surges, increased winter rainfall, drier summers with periods of more intense summer rainfall’. 

Problems elsewhere will also come to Dover’s shoreline.   

As councils across Britain like Bristol, Hastings, Scarborough and Oxford step up to the plate, will Dover District Council commit to doing everything within the Council’s power to make Dover district carbon neutral by 2030 and press the Government to provide the necessary powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible? “

A recording of the meeting includes quotes from the Leader of DDC Councillor Morris:
“Climate change is regrettably likely to become the defining issue of 21st century, . . . world is on track to overshoot the Paris agreements 1.5degree C limit . . . .  much more action needed.

District council is playing an active role and looking to do more.  Over recent months DDC Officers have been working with Kent colleagues on Draft energy and low emissions strategy for Kent and Medway, which aims to . . . reduce  carbon emissions creating a more sustainable energy infrastructure in Kent and Medway. ”  ..  “We’ve introduced electric vehicle charging points at new leisure centre and are requiring developers to do the same with charging points as shown at St James and Lidl.” . . We’ve converted lighting in offices to LED and during the coming year we will be converting all street lights to LED.

I have noted with interest the decisions being taken across the country by various councils, and I will ask our officers to prepare a report for cabinet looking at whether we should do the same.” 

Cheap Bus Rapid Transport – “Council is very keen to make this as green as possible, maybe with electric vehicles.”