DORSET could become a ‘beacon county’ for climate and ecological change if the council, other organisations and the community continue to work together.

Climate change portfolio holder at Dorset Council, Cllr Ray Bryan, says that work already underway, largely helped by a £19million Government grant, is now being expanded to also include more environmentally friendly ways of managing farmland and the county’s nature reserves.

He told a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that around 400 organisations had already been supported to achieve climate objectives with £6million of low carbon projects now operational in rural Dorset.

He said that while work was underway for Dorset Council to cut its 1.5% share of the county’s carbon emissions, it would also need the support of others to achieve target reductions across the whole county.

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Cllr Bryan said work was underway with landowners to help them achieve climate and ecological change with the aid of modest grants and it was a target to have 30 per cent of the county’s land in what he described as “positive management” by 2030.

He said that as a local authority the council did not possess all the answers, or the tools, to continue to tackle the climate and ecological emergency and would need to work with partner organisations and the community to achieve common  goals.

Weymouth Green councillor Brian Heatley told the meeting that while he broadly welcomed the objectives and the progress being made he said the county was failing to address the greenhouse gases produced by agriculture – methane and nitrous oxide - and that progress in improving homes, if it continued at the current rate, would take 800 years to achieve, making the recent changes 130 homes “a drop in the ocean.”

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Cllr Heatley was also critical of the lack of performance statistics being shared with councillors, although he said they were being shown to senior managers. He called for the data to be more widely available so that the success of the council’s climate and ecological policies could be put to the test with the information to be able to judge which policies were working and which were less successful.