‘We cannot afford not to protect the environment’

A demonstration run by Extinction Rebellion outside Scarborough town hall passed off peacefully.

The protestors said they wanted to remind councillors of the commitments they had made in declaring a climate emergency in January.

Inside the building, the borough council was holding a meeting to discuss its budget.

Outside, campaigners professed disappointment “with the choice on offer over the budget, which was to accept maximum austerity with some commitments to the climate, or reject the budget - and with it, perhaps, the climate commitments.

“This was an impossible choice to make for our councillors”, according to a statement issued by Extinction Rebellion, or XR, which welcomed January’s vote.

“But when push came to shove, many if not most of the same councillors rejected the budget because they could not accept other aspects of it - not least the drastic cuts to much-needed public services.

“This is at the same time as taxpayers’ money is spent on costly and unsustainable projects like the Alpamare water park, on subsidising the costs of the Open Air Theatre and demolishing the Futurist for the benefit of developers - which is already damaging our local environment”, the statement continued.

“We recognise that many people in the borough already struggle to pay their council tax, so will not welcome any increase to offset the impact of government cuts. We are concerned that against this background, commitments to the environment may be jettisoned on the basis that ‘we can't afford them’. 

“This is wrong on a number of levels. As many councillors have argued, we cannot afford not to protect the environment - and other councils are already adopting policies that are both environmentally sustainable and cost-saving”.

Warrington borough council is to become the first local authority in the UK to generate all its electricity from renewable sources. This will be achieved by working with two large subsidy-free solar farms, to be built in the Hull and York areas, and with battery storage technology.

It has been estimated that the project will provide for all the council’s electricity needs and lop £2m off its annual budget.

“Why should a council in Cheshire be benefitting when we're not?” asks XR.

* Extinction Rebellion organised another Youth Strike for Climate Scarborough, in the town centre. The turnout included about seven pupils from Graham School, one from the Sixth Form College and a student from out of town. The assembly was addressed by Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate Hugo Fearnley.