DORSET’S new £7 million a year energy contract will not be ‘green.’

Although Dorset Council says there is some scope to use different tariffs as part of its climate change commitment under the deal, it has not opted only for ‘green’ suppliers because of the extra cost.

The council’s cabinet has voted to go ahead with its previous gas and electric supplier, spending more than £7 million a year as part of a group which includes schools and academies, Tricuro and others such as town and parish councils.

Green Party councillor Brian Heatley (Rodwell & Wyke) said the decision was the council’s first real test of its commitment to its declared climate emergency.

“I would like to see more of a commitment to use tariffs which are genuinely green – perhaps buying 25 per cent of our fuel needs in the first year and then increasing it. Within four years it would all be ‘green’ – but there is nothing in what is being asked for which commits our officers to do this,” he said.

Cabinet heard on Tuesday that under the new arrangements the partnership will be able to choose a range of options for fuel, including some which are considered more planet-friendly than others.

The authority is part of a ‘buyers club’ started by Kent County Council – using its size to negotiate better prices.

An earlier decision had been delayed after Dorset Council was asked to look again at a green energy supplier, or suppliers, given that earlier in the year it declared a climate emergency.

A report to this week’s cabinet said there was the possibility under the proposed new four-year deal of choosing different tariffs, a task which will now be delegated to officers.

Climate change lead, Cllr Ray Bryan, said the council was committed to reducing consumption but believed that the deal on offer was the best available, giving at least some choice and flexibility under its terms. He said the additional cost of ‘green’ energy tariffs had to be balanced against the extra costs to residents through their council tax.

He said that the council was also looking at reducing its fuel use by increasing the use of solar panels, better insulations and other means, on many public buildings.

The contract will see Dorset Council as the biggest single user of energy under the contract, accounting for £3.2million over a year, £1.5m of it on street lighting. Tricuro, which runs care facilities, will account for £450,000; schools and academies for £3.45m and other partners such as town and parish councils £50,000 – amounting in total of £7.15million a year.