The proposal to make Dorset a National Park is, on the face of it, an exciting one. However the West and South Dorset Green Party is currently unable to support the proposed establishment of Dorset as a National Park.

We welcome the progressive initiatives which could be delivered by the proposed Dorset National Park, including affordable/social housing, support for farming, the production of local food and sustainable economic development. However, the latest scientific evidence suggests these benefits will be irrelevant unless we also tackle the reality of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published in September 2018 has made it clear that the goal from the Paris Climate Agreement of limiting global warming to a rise of 1.5C will require a precipitous drop in greenhouse emissions triggered by a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, particularly coal, mass deployment of solar and wind energy and the eradication of transport emissions.

There are many references on the National Park website to the need to protect landscapes and address the loss of biodiversity, but no reference at all to the need for the National Park to play a decisive role in tackling climate change. South Downs National Park developed a 56- page climate change adaptation plan which it is proposed be replicated by the Dorset National Park. This indicates a complete lack of awareness of the need for a rapid transformation to a low carbon economy within 12 years. Focussing on climate change adaptation may have been relevant four years ago, but with the latest scientific evidence it is unfortunately now equivalent to a totally obsolete ‘business as usual’ approach.

We will therefore only support the establishment of a Dorset National Park when it publicly adopts a credible and effective climate change strategy and action plan which recognises the need for the urgent deployment of solar power, wind energy and energy saving at a scale adequate to meet the IPCC and Paris Agreement CO2 reduction targets. This should include the cessation of fossil fuel extraction and the proposed National Park publicly welcoming a new planning application for the Navitus Bay offshore wind farm, which would have the potential to decarbonise all domestic electricity supply in Dorset.