COUNCILLORS have agreed to declare a "climate emergency" in Darlington but have clashed over the timescale for the issue to be resolved.

Labour councillor Sam Howarth said "time was running out" to address climate change and echoed the words of David Attenborough that it was a "man made disaster on a global scale" as he urged Darlington Borough Councillors to back his motion.

The Northern Echo:

Although it was overwhelmingly passed, councillors clashed over an amendment made to push the deadline to make Darlington carbon neutral back from 2030 to 2050.

Cllr Stephen Harker, opposition leader, said he had "heard a lot of nonsense in this chamber over the years" and described the behaviour of the Conservative group as "like an episode of Yes Minister".

"We can't put this off, we have to deal with this now. The (Conservative) group need to show leadership. They can't say it is too difficult or we haven't got the money, it doesn't matter if we haven't got the money.

"It is better to have tried and failed rather than failed to try."

In response, Conservative Cllr Lorraine Tostevin asked Cllr Harker why he didn't address the issue when he was council leader, to which he later responded saying he "could have done more" in the last administration.

The Northern Echo:

Cllr Doris Jones said it was "sad" the authority couldn't all agree on something so important to "our children and grandchildren" and accused the Labour group of "playing politics", whilst Cllr Alan Marshall accused Cllr Harker of "playing political games"'.

The passing of the motion means the authority would sign up to a carbon reduction target of no more than 1.5’C global temperature increase and work with nurseries, schools and colleges to include age appropriate learning about climate change.

The council will also call on central government to provide extra funding and powers and the creation of an action plan.

Council leader Heather Scott said: "I am not an expert on climate change, and I don't think anyone in this chamber can claim to be one.

"We have a great opportunity to set up a cross party group. Maybe 2030 can be achievable, but we have to be realistic."

The Northern Echo:

Cllr Matthew Snedker, Green Party, said: "We have to act as soon as possible. I am sorry we have got bogged down with 2030 and 2050, but I do hope that this could be the start of meaningful change in the borough for those who are here and those who are to come."

Fellow Green councillor Bryony Holroyd added: "These changes are not just to help meet targets, they are things people want anyway for the better of the town – we want people to be able to cycle without the worry of getting hit."