Green move for district council

HUNTINGDONSHIRE officially went green last Friday when the district council signed up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change. The official move coincides with HDC cabinet s approval of a draft five-year environmental strategic that commits the co

HUNTINGDONSHIRE officially went green last Friday when the district council signed up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change.

The official move coincides with HDC cabinet's approval of a draft five-year environmental strategic that commits the council to greening itself and to encouraging the rest of us to follow suit.

The plan has been led by Councillor Nick Guyatt, who admitted this week to a gradual conversion from deep cynicism about the causal link between human activity and climate change to enthusiastic embracing of affordable eco-friendly policies.

"We have to accept that the climate is changing," he told The Hunts Post. "There are two sets of forces behind global warning - natural and unnatural. The unnatural are our activities."

His conversion followed his appointment as district council representative on the regional assembly's environment "round table".

"Some of the more sensible environmentalists persuaded me that there was a causal link between what we pump out and climate change. But there's no point in having a wonderful planet with lots of fluffy birds and red squirrels eating their nuts if there's nobody here to see it or if you've caused abject poverty in the process," he said.

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He told cabinet colleagues, however, that he had previously been deeply cynical about the link. "We were between Ice Ages and there was always climate change. We did not previously realise how much human impact there was. Until fairly recently nobody had come up with robust figures.

"The 20th century was about improving standards of living almost without regard to future generations. Now we realise we must do as much as humanly possible. I hope that by our example we can encourage, developers, industry and others to ensure that our children and grandchildren do not live in a climate of excessive changes."

The new strategy would be at the core of everything the council did, and would represent a sea-change in the way the authority operated.

In a rare inclusive move the cabinet resolved to ask representatives of the opposition Liberal Democrats and the council's two Independent members to join a new environment strategy working group.

The strategy commits HDC to a three-pronged policy of tackling climate change, using resources efficiently and protecting and improving the district's environment, and leading the fight to persuade industry and individuals in the area to follow its example.

"We have made a good start with recycling - folk in Huntingdonshire recycle more of their waste than residents of virtually every other district in the land - and energy efficiency," said council leader, Councillor Ian Bates who, with chief executive David Monks, signed the Nottingham Declaration in Norwich on Friday.

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