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climateDorset Council says it is taking significant steps to deliver on its climate commitments, with a series of reports set to be presented to Cabinet next week.

From a refreshed approach to tackling climate change to climate-focussed planning guidance, the reports seek approval to put climate considerations at the heart of council operations and decision-making.

The first report to be considered recommends the adoption of a refreshed Natural Environment, Climate and Ecology Strategy.

Dorset Council adopted its current Climate and Ecological Strategy in 2021, setting a clear direction, with realistic and achievable ambitions, to become a carbon-neutral council by 2040 and a carbon-neutral county by 2050.

In recent years, significant progress has been made in both science and national policy relating to climate change, the council says.  The refreshed strategy aims to reflect these advancements and outline what they mean for the council and Dorset.

This has also been an opportunity for the council, it says, to make its approach to tackling climate change more ‘concise’, condensing the content of the original strategy and its actions without losing its ambition. It also introduces more robust targets for nature recovery and a greater focus on how Dorset will need to adapt and become more resilient to a changing climate.

Accompanying the refreshed strategy at Cabinet is the recommendation to adopt a new climate impact assessment tool.

This ground-breaking new tool has been developed to help the council better identify and understand the impacts of its decision-making on both the climate and the environment.

By identifying any environmental impacts quickly, the council says it can make sure informed decisions are made on proposals, helping it keep on track to meet climate goals.

And last but certainly not least, the final report being presented to Cabinet seeks to clarify the council’s approach to considering climate change in planning decisions.

Interim guidance and a position statement has been produced by the council to clarify the existing planning policy requirements in relation to planning for the climate and ecological emergency. It provides information on the weight given to climate change in decision making and sets out what the council expects from planning applications, given current policy.

Councillor David Walsh, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Planning, said: ‘The new Dorset Local Plan will play a key role in delivering sustainable development. But whilst this plan is being developed, it’s important that we make sure we are maximising opportunities to address climate change as new development is brought forward.

‘By clarifying our position and providing guidance and checklists, we can help make sure considerations for our environment, climate and ecology are put at the forefront of development here in Dorset.’

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio =holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: ‘Since the adoption of our first strategy in 2021, Dorset Council has made tackling climate change and supporting our natural environment a core priority. In this time, we’ve seen council emissions decline by over a quarter.

‘But we’ve still got a long way to go, which is why it is crucial that we consider our natural environment, climate and ecology in all that we do.

‘The response to COVID-19 showed what can be achieved when we pull together, and we must do that again to achieve a carbon neutral, nature positive, resilient Dorset.’

To find out more about what the council is doing to protect the environment and for information on what residents can do to help, visit the climate and ecology pages of the Dorset Council website.

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