Dartford Councillors from across the political divide are coming together to support a range of practical measures to tackle climate change.

A motion submitted to Monday’s General Assembly of the Council proposed by Council Leader Jeremy Kite and seconded by Shadow Deputy Leader Laura Edie commits the Council not only to improve its own contribution to carbon reduction but also to inspire and support the local community to make small changes to help the planet too.

Council Leader Jeremy Kite says “I’m delighted that Dartford has been able to unite across party lines to recognise that climate change is not only a serious issue but that councils and communities have a crucial part to play in tackling it.  This isn’t the sort of issue that ought to divide people and nor does it help to adopt entrenched or impractical positions. There are some pretty dry debates going on about targets with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wanting to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and some saying it should be 2030 or earlier.  Here in Dartford I don’t want the community to be held back by all this wrangling.  The truth is that some of the things we can achieve with our people, businesses and contractors will be much faster and some will play out over time.  Our aim should be to go as far, and as fast, as we can whilst taking everyone with us and doing things that are practical and supportable.   The battle against climate change has to be a common-sense grassroots initiative supported right across our community and local economy. I’m afraid that those who want to see disruption and inconvenience for ordinary families and businesses may actually be setting back the cause of bringing our society together to achieve what needs to be done.”

Supporting the motion Shadow Deputy Leader Laura Edie said “There is no doubt that we are facing a climate crisis. We are already seeing the effects of this worldwide, with the rise in global temperatures causing extreme weather patterns, crop failures and extinctions of plant and animal species. In the UK we have dealt with the hottest summers on record over the last few years and, soberingly, Kent is likely to suffer from some of the most severe impacts due to its geographical location and long coastline.

This can start to feel like a pretty hopeless situation, but I believe that if we come together as both a council and a town, we can play our part in halting global warning. I am determined to leave this planet in a fit state for my daughter and the generations who follow, and am proud to be part of developing progressive policies to achieve this for Dartford.”

The motion set before Dartford Council on Monday draws attention to the particular challenges posed by rising traffic volumes and the impact on local air quality – an issue Jeremy Kite says is close to the heart of Dartford residents. 

“Dartford doesn’t need to be told about the impacts of traffic on air quality and everyday lives of local people. We see it every day. One small council can’t tackle it alone because Dartford’s main problem is not caused by local traffic but by the huge amount of vehicles on the M25 and crossing.   What we need to see is joined-up-thinking to tackle congestion, boost public transport and put air quality firmly on the agenda.”

Dartford Council has also announced the creation of a cross-party group to drive forward the Council’s climate change agenda. Shadow Leader Laura Edie explained why it’s important to set politics aside to ensure change happens

“There is currently so much division nationally, with differences in political opinion further driving people apart. However, something that unifies us all: the young, the old and every living creature on this planet, is climate change. That’s why I’m so pleased to be working cross-party on this issue.”

Jeremy has also confirmed that although independent councillors hold only three of the forty-two seats at Dartford Council, they too will play a full part in the new climate change initiatives.

Leader of the Independent Group Sue Butterfill said “We are in full support of working with the political parties to deliver this important challenge on climate change. We all wish to ensure that commitments are made to improve the lives of our local residents and a number of effective steps like the ‘Edible Garden Projects’  are already utilizing underused spaces to grow fruit and vegetables. Rolling out ideas like this that help tackle social isolation and encourage people to eat more healthily as well as helping our planet are exactly the sort of projects we can work together to deliver. Exciting times are ahead.”

The full motion to be presented to Dartford Borough Council on the 7th October 2019 reads:

That this Council recognises the serious impact of climate change and accepts that rising global temperatures presents a clear and present threat to our world. We are facing a climate emergency.

The Council further recognises that all governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to act but feels that progress in Dartford should not be constrained by the actions of the slowest. Our town and its people have a part to play in securing a sustainable future and this Council must not only be a force for change in itself, but must inspire and encourage change in others.

It welcomes the Government’s commitment to meet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 but feels that, locally, we should aspire to act faster, and go further, to embed multiple actions across our community and local economy. Some measures may be quicker to yield results than others but the Council aspires to see the effects of climate change tackled earlier than either the 2050 national target or the 2030 date proposed by some.

It commits to pursuing measures that are deliverable, measurable and practical. It will inspire and promote efforts – small and large – to address climate change throughout our local community. It recognises that the interests of the environment are served not by empty promises or by setting one legitimate interest against another but by securing collaboration and a genuine commitment to change throughout the Borough and amongst our residents, neighbourhoods, businesses and wider partners. It will co-operate with other authorities at every tier.

Dartford knows more than most about the particular challenges posed by rising traffic volumes and the impact on local air quality. We commit to increase our efforts to work with highways partners to reduce car use, resolve traffic issues in pollution hotspots and create workable, popular solutions within residential communities to prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and calmer, safer traffic.

It commits to make enlightened choices in our own supply chain and encourage other organisations to do the same with the aim of safeguarding resources and reducing pollution.

It notes the successful inauguration of the Leader’s cross-party Working Group on Climate Change and commits to developing this group to include informed and representative local voices.

Finally, this Council sets itself the goal of making a contribution to tackling climate change to match any comparable local authority.