Vale Of the White Horse District Council Votes Unanimously In Support of the CEE Bill.

The Vale Of the White Horse District Council last week voted unanimously in support of the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill, bringing the number of District Councils In Oxfordshire which have passed motions in support of the Bill to a majority. Vale joins Oxford County Council and South Oxfordshire District Council, with just Cherwell and West Oxfordshire District Councils declining to support so far.

The climate is changing - and council support for the CEE Bill is converging

Vale’s unanimous support for the CEE Bill reflects rising concerns country-wide about the climate crisis in the wake of COP26. Despite progress being made against many fronts at COP26, global warming is still on a trajectory to exceed 2C with many countries, including the UK, failing to align their goals with 1.5C.

The ‘Adapt or Die’ report to the Government by The Environment Agency in October this year, just before COP26, spelled out the local impacts of global warming; from extreme weather and flooding impacting local businesses, farming, and infrastructure, to depleted public water supplies as warmer, drier summers hit. 

Councillors in Oxfordshire at parish, town and district level recognise that driving action locally is essential to deliver climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, but that these also depend on strong national legislative frameworks and policy.

In her statement regarding Vale District support of the CEE Bill, Cllr Bethia Thomas, Deputy Leader at Vale of White Horse District Council, said:

“While local Government budgets are extremely strained, we could take much faster action if this Bill passes and government allows greater policy flexibility, and ensures funding to address the climate and ecological emergencies.”

Emily Smith
Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said:

“We’re proud to support the Zero Hour Oxfordshire’s campaign to pass the CEE Bill as its principles are absolutely vital if the council, the county – and the country – wants to achieve carbon and nature targets. We urgently need new, national safeguards in place to reduce emissions, particularly across high emissions industries. As a local authority, we also need to see changes in policy, plus greater funding, to bring about truly meaningful climate action, both locally and across the UK.”

Cllr Simon Howell, Leader of Vale of White Horse Conservative Group at Vale White Horse District Council, said

“Vale Conservatives were proud to support the motion at Council regarding the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill. This is something our residents have contacted us about and we were already working on developing our own motion to support the environmental principles of the Bill, ensuring the ecological emergency is put front and centre alongside the climate emergency. The need for strong action to protect our climate and environment is vital. As 2030 draws ever closer, we see an increasing risk of climate impacts affecting our way of life here in Oxfordshire. It has never been more important to ensure meaningful action is now taken at all levels of government, to enshrine our commitments to future generations.”

Councilor Simon Howell
Cllr Simon Howell, Leader - Vale of White Horse Conservative Group

South Oxfordshire DC (SODC) passed a motion in support of the bill earlier in the year. Cllr Sam Casey-Rerhaye, Chair of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Advisory Committee, SODC said. 

“We are seeing more and more tangibly how ecological issues are impacting nature and wildlife, and making the climate crisis even worse. We are already experiencing how this leads to extreme weather and has a detrimental effect on food production and so many other issues that ultimately endanger our lives and well-being and the world around us.’

Town and Parish Council Support Builds Across Oxfordshire

In West Oxfordshire, in addition to Charlbury Town Council’s motion to support earlier in the year, Chipping Norton, Burford and Witney Town Councils  all passed unanimous motions in support of the Bill with Chipping Norton and Burford also recently signing the Zero Hour campaign open letter to Oxfordshire MPs.

Georgia Mazower, Mayor Of Chipping Norton said,

“We support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill because we need a strong legislative framework linking climate and nature to guide funding and decision making at a local level. We desperately need a joined up approach in Oxfordshire, with clear, measurable targets for us all to work to at all levels.”

In his open letter to Robert Courts (MP for Witney, West Oxfordshire), Mayor of Conservative-led Burford Town Cllr. Peter Higgs said of the CEE Bill;

“It offers a clear vision and strategy to help the Government contribute to its fair share of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and to restore biodiversity and ecosystems… Our Government must lead a global work stream on ensuring an inclusive and sustainable recovery from Covid-19. That is what they promised the UN. I am asking you please as my MP to insist that they do this. Will you do this?”

The CEE Bill and growing cross-party support among Town and Parish Councils.

Henley Town Council followed support from Wantage and Oxford City earlier in the year. 

Cllr Laurence Plant, Conservative Councillor at Henley Town Council, who passed unanimously in support of the CEE Bill said;

Cllr Laurence Plant
Cllr Laurence Plant (Conservative), Henley Town Council

“Now more than ever, it is time for all political parties to come together and speak up for decisive action on the climate and nature emergency. We are increasingly going to be seeing adverse climate impacts in Oxfordshire such as flooding affecting infrastructure and businesses, and the CEE Bill will enable us to implement the necessary systemic change at a local level to mitigate against the worst effects of the emergency. I would urge all Oxfordshire conservative politicians across both local government and at Westminster to join me in supporting the CEE Bill.”

There are growing numbers of parish councils passing motions of support including Ambrosden, Berrick Salome, Bletchingdon, Brize Norton, Enstone, Farington, Hailey, Henley, Kidlington, Sonning Common, Pyrton, Goring Heath and Shrivenham.

Lisa Wilkinson, chair Of Hailey Parish Council said

‘An emergency strategy is desperately needed by the Government. It is going nowhere fast!!’

whilst Enston Parish Council said,

‘Enstone Parish Council unanimously support the adoption of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, to ensure that a commitment to deliver policy and action in line with the latest science is enshrined in law for all governments to adhere to. We feel that any government must observe and react to the latest science information rather than use outdated information that would have little or no effect in addressing developing climate and ecological challenges.’

Bringing it back to immediate local imperatives, Bletchingdon Parish Council said,

‘Bletchingdon Parish Council are in support of Oxfordshire becoming carbon neutral as soon as possible and believe this Bill will also support those aims’..

Zero Hour Oxfordshire calls on all councilors to join the fight for the future of Oxfordshire.

With just ten years left to keep a living global temperature increase of 1.5C  within reach, urgent, accelerated action is required now. The gaps in the Government’s Net Zero Strategy and the Environment Bill have been well documented – an emergency strategy based on Scientific advise which strategically links policy action on climate and policy action on nature is what is required to safeguard the future for the children of today. 

Zero Hour Oxfordshire, the campaign in support of the CEE Bill, are calling all town and parish councillors in Oxfordshire to join their colleagues by proposing and supporting motions in support of the CEE Bill.  You can download the Council toolkit here.