Mystery surrounds the true cost of climate and ecological emergency work in county
By Trevor Bevins - Local Democracy Reporter
15th Oct 2023 | Local News
CLIMATE costs for Dorset Council are difficult to accurately predict – according to the Cabinet member leading on the authority's climate and ecological emergency work.
Swanage councillor Bill Trite has asked for the total cost of reaching carbon neutrality for the council between 2019 and the target date of 2040, or sooner, if it can be achieved.
Cabinet holder for the area, Cllr Ray Bryan, told the October council meeting it was not possible to predict the full costs although the council was striving, and would continue to strive, to achieve best value for money.
"Given the changing legislative environment, the rapid development of technology and the way that we are trying to embed different ways of working within existing budgets to reduce our environmental impact, it is not possible to predict net costs for the council from now until 2040. However, we will continue to ensure that we get best value from our own and external investments, and we are actively looking at invest to save models in areas such as renewables and storage where it should be possible to deliver financial returns and savings that would result in no net costs to the council," he said.
He said that the current £70million investment programme included a £10 million capital investment from Dorset Council for climate and ecology work and external grants worth more than £35.5million.
The portfolio holder told the October full council meeting that he would ensure the costs to Dorset Council remained as low as possible – mainly by winning new Government grants, making the best use of the technology available, and encouraging greater public participation in schemes which reduced carbon use.
Cllr Bryan said: "As I have made clear on a number of occasions, the council cannot achieve this alone. Our residents will be at the heart of our journey to a greener, cleaner Dorset, and it is notable that public concern about climate change is significantly higher in the South West than in other regions of the UK according to government's own public attitudes tracker.
"The Dorset COP event was a clear indication of this, with a constructive day of discussion and debate.
"Our officers attended not only to ensure that the council's position was represented and understood, but also to learn from our residents themselves on how we might better facilitate wider change, and took an active role on the day. The COP was an exceptionally well-organised community event that was a testament to our residents' seriousness about net zero."