COUNCILS in Dorset are being told to ‘wake up’ to the serious threat of climate change and speed up their responses to it.

Julie-Ann Booker, from Extinction Rebellion, said it was disappointing that Dorset Council was not likely to make any recommendations until almost a year after it had declared a climate emergency.

She said that councillors had been told that draft findings from a climate change panel, which has met behind closed doors, would only be made public in April.

“Climate change is a real and serious threat to us all and Dorset Council has a responsibly to play its part…it’s widely recognised that we have about 12 years until we reach the tipping point,” she told a Dorchester town council meeting on Monday evening.

She said that the Dorset Council’s draft corporate plan for the next four years barely mentioned climate change. She called on Dorchester town councillors to remind the unitary council of its responsibilities at every opportunity during consultations on its draft corporate plan.

“It seems to be ‘business as usual’ where the climate emergency is dealt with somewhere else,” she said, calling on Dorset Council to show ‘direction, leadership and pace,” on the issue.

Cllr Les Fry agreed that the issue needed to be a priority for Dorset Council: “If we don’t look after the climate, we won’t have one.”

He said he would like to see renewables built into new homes from the outset, a sustainable transport system and better provision made for electric vehicles across the county.

His called was backed by Cllr Janet Hewitt: “We have got to take it seriously and put some rigorous plans in place,” she said.

Cllr Stella Jones called for the Dorset Pension scheme to take a lead and invest only in green and environmentally friendly funds, while others called for simple measures which could be undertaken now – such as planting more trees and creating more public parks and open spaces.

Cllr Susie Hosford said Dorchester Town Council could be proud of what it was doing and was addressing carbon neutral ways to heat and light the municipal buildings, already had electric vehicle for its outdoor team and was investigating how it could reduce single-use plastics in all its activities and buildings. It would also be asking local people what more they thought the council should be doing when it consulted on the town council’s corporate plan in the New Year.