Councillor warns Thurrock is on the ‘frontline’ of climate change in call for emergency declaration

A COUNCILLOR has warned that Thurrock is on the frontline of climate change and wants to see all the council’s activities made carbon neutral by 2030.

Labour Councillor Oliver Gerrish is calling on the council to make climate change a top priority in all future strategies and policy decisions with the ambition of making all the council’s activities carbon neutral in just over ten years.

Oliver Gerrish 17

He has laid out the idea for a ‘climate emergency’ in a motion that has been submitted to Thurrock’s full council meeting which will take place on October 23.

Mr Gerrish said it was time the council began “playing its part” in tackling climate change.

“We are doing this because we recognise the huge threat that climate change represents,” he said.

“This is particularly true in Thurrock, where we already have some of the most polluted air in Europe and many of the illnesses associated with it.

“We are threatened with the new Lower Thames Crossing – a brand new motorway further polluting our air – not to mention the potential environmental impacts of another 32,000 houses that the Government wants us to build.

“It therefore seems like the perfect time to make a statement that an alternative must be possible.

“Make no mistake that Thurrock is on the front line against climate change. If our skies become more polluted, Thurrock will feel it first and worst. If flooding becomes more likely, areas like Tilbury which are already on a flood plain will be most at risk.

“We must take a lead on climate change rather than wait for others to act. While the council has made some improvements over the last ten years, it is now time to put this issue front and centre, and make sure that it is factored into every activity undertaken by the council.”

He added: “Whether we take action is no longer a choice, it is a necessity. The only question is whether we act swiftly and decisively enough to secure our future.”

The motion details a series of actions the council should take in declaring the climate emergency, including embedding green policies in “all areas” and “take responsibility for reducing, as rapidly as possible, the carbon emissions resulting from the council’s activities”.

It also calls on Andrew Watkins, who oversees the environment, to create a climate change partnership group involving councillors, residents and climate science experts, as well as calling on council leader Rob Gledhill to write to the Government for extra powers and resources.

It comes after a number of other authorities made similar declarations including Southend Council.

However, the goal to make only Thurrock Council’s activities carbon neutral by 2030 is less ambitious than Southend, where the authority hopes to cut council emissions by 2025 and whole borough by 2030.

Mr Gerrish said Thurrock “needs to start somewhere” and the council will “take the lead in making the whole borough follow our example”.

The climate emergency will be discussed at a full council meeting on October 23.

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