Allerdale Borough Council and the Climate Emergency

18 March 2020

In recent years Cumbria has suffered devastating floods that are a clear indication of global warming. As a consequence you might expect Allerdale Borough Council has not been backward in coming forward to address climate change. Allerdale is in fact among the worst of poorly performing authorities. Friends of the Earth have analysed what action the council has taken to cut greenhouse gases to date.

Their summary assessment says “Allerdale area’s performance on climate change is poor compared to other similar local authority areas. All local authorities, even the best performing, need to do much more if climate catastrophe is to be averted. Allerdale particularly needs to do much better on improving home insulation, increasing tree cover, and increasing waste recycling”.(1)

The floods in November 2009 and December 2015 were the worst we have suffered in centuries.(2) Four years later, at the September 2019 Allerdale Council Meeting, Cllr. Sally Lansbury (Lab) tabled a motion,(3) in which she stated that a number of local councils have passed motions declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’. Her motion emphasised the goal of reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and contained a catalogue of many positive actions in response to the climate emergency including:

  • Work with partners in local sustainability organisations and Parish, Town and County Councils to help to deliver this goal through strategies, plans and shared resources.
  • Work with relevant officers to divest from fossil fuels and to invest in ethical funds.
  • Pledge to make Allerdale carbon neutral by 2030.
  • Call on Government to provide the policy changes & funding to make the 2030 deadline possible.
  • Report to full Council with the actions the council will take to address this emergency, within six months, in time for their recommendations to be funded in the next budget cycle.
  • Establish an ethical procurement framework to ensure suppliers reduce their carbon footprint.

The meeting minutes record that later “In moving her motion Councillor S Lansbury added that tonight a petition of over 1,200 signatures from constituents across West Cumbria had been presented to the Council and that she presented this motion to represent their views, to join Carlisle, Eden, South Lakes and 230 other UK Councils to declare a Climate Emergency.”(4)

And later she added, “What the Climate Emergency Motion asks is that Allerdale establishes a policy framework and action plans for the Borough to reach a carbon neutral target by 2030.”

Then Cllr. Mark Jenkinson (Con) moved an amendment to Cllr. Lansbury’s motion that removed mention of a Climate Emergency. His amendment also deleted “Work with relevant officers to divest from fossil fuels and to invest in ethical funds”. He asked the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to report in six months. The vote was taken on Cllr. Jenkinson’s amendment becoming the substantive motion, which was carried. A bitter foretaste of conservative malintent when considering positive action on climate change.

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee submitted its Climate Change Report (5) at the March 2020 Allerdale Council Meeting and all the main findings were unanimously agreed. The Climate Change Report is vague but worth reading. Some of the key ideas are presented below:

A standing Climate Change Group will be created to “drive forward” the Council’s response to climate change. The group will create and deliver the Council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. This will be produced by June 2020 to allow its recommendations to inform the Council Budget 2021 – 22. The Climate Change Group will also publish an annual report on their progress.

Council’s senior management team and other interested officers and councillors will receive training on how to develop and embed climate change policy into all activities of the Council.

A Stakeholder Engagement Plan is to be developed and maintained to interact with and learn from community groups. The Stakeholder Workshop in January 2020 was attended by members of several local environmental organisations including Jill Perry and Jack Lenox of the Green Party.

The Council will carry out a climate change audit to establish a carbon footprint baseline. It will also adopt a pre-validation checklist for planning applications that promotes policies for achieving climate neutrality. A sustainable procurement policy will be produced and acted upon.

Friends of the Earth’s summary assessment of Allerdale tells us it is among the worst of poorly performing local authorities on climate change. It is now 2020 and they aim to be net zero carbon by 2030. Allerdale Council must quickly sharpen up their act. Rapidly improved performance will require adequately funded - clear - measured - annual - climate action targets and results.

Ian St.John



1. FoE Climate Action. How Climate Friendly is Allerdale.

2. Chiverrell et al. Using lake sediment archives to improve understanding of flood magnitude and frequency: Recent extreme flooding in northwest UK. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. Volume 44. Issue 12. September 2019.

3. Item 171. Meeting of Allerdale Council. Wednesday 25 September 2019.

4. Climate Emergency UK.

5. Item 16. Meeting of Allerdale Council. Wednesday 4 March 2020.

Additional documents: Climate Change Report Final Version (21 Feb 2020). PDF 1MB



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