Wakefield's green agenda stifling business says Tory councillor, who says he's 'not a climate change denier yet'

Wakefield Council's carbon neutral agenda has been attacked on the grounds it may damage local businesses.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 9:37 am
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 11:13 am

Nadeem Ahmed, the leader of the Opposition Tory group on the authority, sensationally told fellow councillors, "I'm not a climate change denier - not yet," at a meeting on Wednesday.

Coun Ahmed went onto suggest that green policies being pursued by the council could result in job losses and hit local businesses in the pocket.

The leader of the Labour-run council, Denise Jeffery said she did not want to make residents or businesses poorer.

Coun Ahmed said the local authority needed to "slow down" its carbon neutral programme.

Wakefield is one of just three local councils in West and South Yorkshire to adopt a pledge of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 - Leeds and Barnsley being the other two.

But although it is currently pushing forward policies which favour electric vehicles, both Labour and Tory councillors have speculated on whether or not that's as green as it seems, citing concerns around the lithium batteries the cars use.

Repeating sentiments he expressed at the end of last year, Coun Ahmed told full council: "I support (the pledge) on moral grounds, but no other grounds.

"We're implementing stuff now that will probably be proved wrong in our lifetimes.

13 electric vehicle charging points are being set up across the Wakefield district, but concerns have expressed about how environmentally-friendly they actually are.

"We're asking taxi drivers to move to hybrid cars, which costs a significant amount of money.

"You're asking a taxi driver on minimum wage to spend £30,000 on a hybrid vehicle. There are big businesses out there making millions of pounds off lithium batteries, which we don't know the consequences of yet.

"We need to support industry growing here, and I think the climate change agenda has been used to stifle business.

"The fact is we've got about four countries in the world which account for about 50 per cent of all carbon emissions. This is an international problem.

"I haven't got enough knowledge to be a climate change denier, so I agree with what we're doing but we need to slow down."

In response, Coun Jeffery said: "We've got to be realistic. There's only so much we can do.

"We can't expect everyone to change their boiler. We know not everyone can afford electric cars. But we have to do what we can.

"We don't want to damage business and we don't want to make people poorer.

"There needs to be a balance to what we're doing, but we need to do something."

Local Democracy Reporting Service