Cornwall Council apology over climate change policy failure

18 01 2022 | 10:51

Officers at Cornwall Council have apologised for not implementing an environmental decision-making policy while assessing plans for a new air service between Newquay and London.

The council, which declared a climate emergency in 2021, had decided all projects should be assessed by a climate change "decision-making wheel".

Senior officers apologised to a scrutiny committee for the omission.

However, they said green concerns were examined.

'Serious omission'

Following its declaration of a climate emergency in January 2021 the council decided the decision wheel should be employed to determine the green impact of projects in its bid to become carbon neutral.

However, some councillors realised the decision-making process had not been applied in awarding the contract for the flights, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

At a meeting of the economic growth and development overview and scrutiny committee, Phil Mason, strategic director for economic growth and development, admitted staff "didn't include" the wheel in "bringing the decision forward".

He said: "We should have done that and we didn't."

Infrastructure director Nigel Blackler added: "It was a serious omission on our part as officers and I appear before you... embarrassed to admit that."

However, Mr Blackler said climate change impact was considered when making the decision.

He also said Eastern Airways had made commitments to minimise the impact in terms of carbon emissions and noise pollution, including aircraft being used having 40% lower carbon emissions than previous planes.

Councillors called for an all-member briefing to ensure councillors understand the decision wheel and how it was used by officers.

The direct flights to London are being subsidised by the government for two years.

Cornwall Council is to receive up to £1.8m in grants to run the year-round public service obligation (PSO) route.