CHEERS and applause rang out in county hall today as Wiltshire Council acknowledged a climate emergency after campaigners urged Councillors to ‘think about their grandchildren and think about tomorrow.’

The vote over climate change was made following a day of peaceful protests outside County Hall in Trowbridge today amid heightened security including bags checks and three security guards.

Councillors were split nearly down the middle with 36 supporting and 32 opposing the motion to acknowledge a Climate Emergency.

Wiltshire Council now joins around 20 other councils including North Somerset and Bristol Council working to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Campaigner Alice Brown, 25 said: “Last time we were here the chair of the council encouraged councillors not to listen to us. But now we have come back with four times as many people to say something needs to be done.”

During debate Cllr Gavin Grant said: “A year ago we were preparing ourselves for blizzards. These things are happening now. When my grandchild gripped my finger in her hand for the first time I made a commitment to change my ways.”

Cllr Alan Hill said: “I do not believe that these words are valid. I believe that we have global warming, climate change and I understand those phrases and can relate to them I am not happy with the words climate emergency. We all must do our part but I think we also have to do our part in a way that is achievable and realistic. I think the industries need to be pressurised into taking the appropriate action.”

Speaking after the 90 minute long debate Cllr Brian Mathew, who put forward the motion said: “It was fantastic, I really didn’t now which way the vote would go. I don’t think it has to cost a lot of money, just people’s time and thoughts. There is already some great work being done by our famers and everyone can play their part.”

Cllr Brian Mathew said: “This gets right to the heart of the issue. People are talking about their grandchildren thinking about tomorrow. We have a chance to do something, it sets up a mechanism for how we can find solution. Think global act global, let’s do it.”

Cllr Sarah Gibson said: “The only way we are going to get close to change is if we take it seriously. And that is why we need to call it an emergency. These are the aims and aspiration we can work to. If you want to see a carbon neutral house you can come to mine it is simple and easy to do.”

Cllr Nick Murry said he believed it was an emergency and added: “Wiltshire Council has a key role to play through stronger planning policies that promote carbon neutral development, investing in renewable energy generation and putting in infrastructure to support the transition to electric vehicles.” 

While some Conservative councillors agreed with the motion, including Cllr Mary Douglas and Cllr Stuart Wheeler, who confirmed the debate had swayed his views, some opposed the motion.

Cllr Ian Blair Pilling said: “I do not understand how the target to be carbon neutral is achievable so I will join the others in voting about what we can do instead of supporting somewhat wishful words.”

Resoinding to the call to make the county carbon neutral by 2030, Cllr Phillip Whitehead added:”I have problems with pledges we are not in control with. We are making promises we cannot keep. I do not like showboating and want actions not words. Lets have action not words.”

One supporter responding to the decision said: “It is so important what you have done today. We have either be heroes or villains and you turned out to be heroes.”

A second motion was approved that will explore what Wiltshire Council can do to improve its work to be environmentally-friendly, which could see a cabinet position created with responsibility for environmental issues.