A COUNCIL which has seen its green ambitions called into question has signalled an intention to extend the climate change action it is undertaking to help some residents tackle the challenge.

Darlington Borough Council leader Councillor Heather Scott pledged to support tenants of the authority’s housing cut their carbon emissions as she revealed she would be joining a reformed cross-party action group which would now look at not just the council’s environmental plans, but improvements across the borough.

The Tory leader was speaking after being questioned over the scope of the new cross-party group, which her administration unceremoniously axed in the autumn sparking significant controversy.

The Conservative administration’s stance towards climate change has been under the microscope since July 2019, when members committed the council to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, rather than the initially proposed target of 2030.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic concerns were raised over the speed of proposed changes. Matters came to a head in the council chamber before Christmas when some members of her own party joined opposition members in voting to reinstate the action group, which had been developing a range of strategies to cut carbon emissions.

Ahead of the reformed group’s first meeting on Monday, Green Party leader Councillor Matthew Snedker asked Cllr Scott whether it could examine climate change issues in Darlington that are not directly caused by the council.

He highlighted how council tenants don’t have the capacity or the ability to significantly reduce their emissions, and said it could be argued that the Tees Valley Airport is directly an emission from the councils of the combined authority.

Cllr Snedker said: “The Government’s climate change committee has said there should be no increase in aviation numbers until the aviation industry is able to hit a net zero carbon emissions target.”

He added the council collected waste which went to an incinerator, which also increased emissions.

Cllr Scott said she welcomed Cllr Snedker’s suggestions and said she would like the working group to look into them, but that it would be up to the group to select its chairman.

She said the authority had already committed £1m into council housing budget to deal with climate change, adding: “We’ve got to do everything for those people who can’t help themselves.”

Cllr Scott said she wanted climate change to be taken into consideration in every decision that the council made.

She said since July the council had completed a number of steps, such as introducing regular climate champions meetings. In addition, she emphasised that cabinet members will each assume individual responsibility for assessing and implementing climate change opportunities in their portfolios.