West Berkshire Council (WBC) has declared a climate emergency.

The council last night (Tuesday, July 2) backed a motion to aim to deliver a carbon neutral district by 2030.

WBC had rejected a similar motion in May due to disagreement over wording but a cross-party working group of councillors came to a compromise ahead of last night’s meeting.

However, activists and Green Party councillors criticised the council executive for delaying a debate on the third runway at Heathrow.

Councillor Steve Masters, who submitted the petition that led to the revised motion, said it had been referred to as ‘hyperbole’ by some members of the council but he was pleased the administration has now embraced ‘the wishes of the public’.

The campaigner and recently elected Green Party councillor said: “We need to be serious. Half measures are not going to cut it.

“The third runway is an example of this. On Heathrow we have to say a bold no.”

WBC will now call on the government to provide the council with the resources to make the target possible.

The council will also work with other authorities and ‘the whole community’ to deliver best practice methods to limit global warming to less than 1.5°c.

Conservative councillor Steve Ardagh-Water, who proposed the revised motion, said: “I am glad to see that this is not a contentious issue.

“We cannot do this in isolation. It is our role to lead by example but it is our residents who are going to respond to our climate emergency.”

Lib Dem councillor Adrian Abbs called for ‘practical and efficient’ solutions that deliver benefits to those implementing them.

Reading Chronicle:

A newly formed Environment Board will provide an interim report to the Executive in September 2019.

Green and Lib Dems criticised the decision to only include Conservative councillors on the board but Cllr Pask said an advisory group would contain cross-party members that would feed into the board.

A debate on whether to oppose Heathrow third runway will now take place on September 12, one day before the airport expansion consultation ends.

Chairman Graham Pask said this would be enough time to add the council’s view to the consultation.

Activist Lois Ryan said: “I was very impressed that the climate emergency declaration was unanimous.

“With regards to Heathrow, I think that debate did need to happen today but we are getting somewhere.

“It is really good to see cross-party support for this issue.”