Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) declared a climate emergency and will return to committee-based decision making, it was announced yesterday.

The MVDC held an extraordinary session of councillors on Tuesday (June 18), where both key measures were approved in what Council Leader Stephen Cooksey dubbed "very important issues."

The declaration of a climate emergency — which passed unanimously — saw Mole Valley join scores of other UK councils and the UK government itself in acknowledging the seriousness of the dangers posed by carbon emissions and the global climate crisis.

In addition to making its own commitments, MVDC said it would work with residents and businesses and lead the way towards a sustainable future.

"There is nothing more important than the journey we are about to embark on," Councillor Claire Malcomson, Cabinet Member for Environment, said.

"The ultimate consequence of us continuing as we are will mean we devastate our planet. We have to act now.

"I am pleased that, with support across the chamber, we were able to declare a Climate Emergency and put ourselves in a position of influence to help make a difference. We are committed to empowering residents and businesses to do the same."

Your Local Guardian: River Mole. Image: Johan J.Ingles-Le NobelRiver Mole. Image: Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel

The cabinet member for the environment added that, in her view, MVDC were in a unique position and could offer a blueprint for other councils and local authorities regarding how to take action having acknowledged the scale of the challenge posed by climate breakdown.

"We are uniquely placed as a local authority to lead the way in our district and put ourselves forward as a blueprint for others to follow. First and foremost we must recognise that, as a council, we are not blameless either.

"We have committed to review the way we do things as we strive towards carbon neutrality. This will inevitably involve changes limited not only to ourselves, but those that provide services on our behalf.

"We will do everything in our power to become carbon neutral by 2030," she said, revealing the council's ambitious target for eliminating its own carbon emissions.

"The changes we put in place over the next decade and beyond will not only benefit the local environment and biodiversity in the district, but it will deliver economic and wellbeing benefits, creating jobs, savings and market opportunities," she added.

Meanwhile, MVDC councillors also approved a return to committee based decision making.

In essence, it means that powers will move from Cabinet members to committees that feature councillors in proportion to their parties' representation on the council.

Councillor Stephen Cooksey, Leader of Mole Valley District Council, said: "We see this new structure as transparent and democratic.

"All members’ voices will be heard, and all members will be accountable for Council decisions.

"We feel strongly that this is the right move for MVDC and its residents."

For more information about the two consequential decisions, see MVDC's news portal for June: