Competing motions cause a row at Dorset Council meeting

15 April 2022

The Conservatives blocked a motion aimed at tackling climate change, tabled by Green Councillor Clare Sutton, at last evening's Dorset Council meeting (April 14th). Then moved their own motion, and blocked debate on it.

Green Councillor Kelvin Clayton, said "It was an insult to democracy". 

The Green motion, backed by the Liberal Democrats, was to get Dorset Council to lobby the Government to change the National Planning Policy Framework. This change would empower local authorities to resist fossil fuel applications by enabling them to factor climate impacts into decision making. There have been legal challenges on the same basis as currently the policy does not require a proper asssessment of carbon emissions.

Cllr Sutton, who leads the Green group on the Council, said: "We're in a very desperate situation, but there's still time. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. I'd hoped to achieve cross party support for this. Many councillors want to take back control on the National Planning Policy Framework".

Cllr Brian Heatley said: "we have one specific and straightforward point - that fossil fuels should be treated in the same way as peat in the policy". 

Cllr Jon Orrell, who represents the most deprived part of Weymouth, said that what his residents needed was better insulation and lower bills, not more fracking or drilling for oil. 

But the motion was lost by 41 votes to 30. The Tories then tabled their own motion on the same lines but with a much weaker requirement - chaos reigned in the Council chamber when protestors glued themselves to a table and the meeting had to be relocated.

The Conservative motion was carried but with only two speakers allowed in support. Further debate was stifled.

Cllr Clayton said: "We were told that we would go straight to the vote, that the chair would take no speakers. Not the finest day for democracy.

"I would have said that anyone with any respect for scientific evidence will agree that future energy generation must be restricted to renewables".




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