Published: 10:26, 10 July 2019
| Updated: 10:26, 10 July 2019
A town council has declared a climate and ecological emergency - and has vowed to become carbon neutral within six years.
The move comes from Hythe Town Council (HTC), who voted to make changes at its most recent town meeting.
The declaration - put forward by Green councillor Martin Whybrow - outlined that "urgent action" is required to limit the effects of global warming, which not only affects Hythe residents, but people around the globe.
But prime exposures to climate change that Hythe’s residents face include more severe weather, coastal flooding and the rapid loss of biodiversity.
The council will now work to make its activities carbon neutral by 2025 - 25 years more ambitious than the Government's target of 2050.
Although the full policy is yet to be drawn up, likely actions include switching to renewable energy and improving the efficiency of the council’s properties, and a programme of tree planting for carbon offsetting.
The council will also look into fitting solar panels on its properties.
HTC's Cllr Martin Whybrow, also a district and county councillor, said: "It is vital that all levels of central and local government play their part in tackling the greatest threat to our planet.
"It is wholly appropriate that Hythe Town Council joins the100 plus other councils around the country in declaring a Climate Emergency.
"Urgent action is required if we are to stand any chance of limiting global warming.
"Locally, our communities are particularly exposed to coastal flooding and, as a result of more extreme weather events, surface water flooding, alongside the loss of biodiversity from our local gardens, open spaces and countryside."
A sub-committee of the council will now draw up a full action plan, using a framework provided by the Carbon Trust.
HTC says it will work with its partners and contractors and investigate all possible sources of external funding and match funding to support its commitment to carbon neutrality.
HTC's declaration comes following a re-shuffling of the council at the May elections; the Conservatives lost control and the largest group is now a coalition of six Green Party councillors, one Lib Dem and two independent councillors.
The vote on the decision to declare a climate emergency saw 10 vote in support, three against and one abstention.
At the same meeting HTC pledged to go plastic free in a bid to reduce the amount of material clogging up landfill sites and ruining beaches.
Councillors unanimously agreed a proposal in support of banning single use plastic at last week’s meeting.
Documents put forward by Cllr Jenni Hawkins (Green) state: “HTC recognises the harm the exponential growth of plastics is causing to us and the environment. Clogging up our landfills and littering our beaches, plastic pollution is harming wildlife on land and in the sea, while working its way up the food chain into our diets, water supplies and even into the air we breathe.”
Other changes from the new-look council include lodging a formal objection to the Otterpool Park development, which could 10,000 homes built on land around Folkestone racecourse if given the go-ahead.