A PARISH council in a village near York has become the first in North Yorkshire to declare a ‘climate emergency.’

Tockwith with Wilstrop Parish Council joined much bigger authorities, such as City of York Council, in making the declaration, after agreeing the move at its first meeting held online because of the pandemic.

Arnold Warneken, a local Green campaigner and a parish councillor, asked it to adopt the motion to declare the emergency, with a commitment to becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.

He said parish councils often felt there was very little that they can do compared with larger district and county councils but in fact there were many opportunities for them to run their affairs more sustainably, and also inspire residents to make their own changes.

‘For example, Tockwith Parish Council could opt to install a heat pump, solar panels or a biomass boiler in our village hall, for which funding is available, as well as choosing a renewable electricity supplier,”he said.

“On a village scale, councils can promote local energy generation, free house insulation and electric vehicle charging points.

‘In the last few months, there has been a huge public interest in cycling and other parish councils have offered small interest-free loans to less well-off residents to buy their own bikes.

“Tockwith Parish Council is responsible for green areas including play-parks and allotments, and can increase the space left for wildlife, and even plant more trees.”

He said lifestyles had been up-ended by lockdown but part of people’s new-normal lifestyle had been good for the planet.

“Lots of people have seen the benefits of working from home, with travel time and costs slashed,” he said.

“The reduction of cars on the road has then encouraged others to get on their bikes, all helping to cut air pollution.

“Harrogate Borough Council has changed some street layouts to give more room to social-distancing pedestrians and cyclists. So please, let’s not waste this fantastic progress.”

He added that the council was expected to set up a working group which would report back with a detailed plan of action within six months.