Councillors walk out of Northampton planning committee in solidarity with ‘climate emergency’ campaign

Samuel Kilby-Shaw (left) and Paul Joyce were excused from the meeting
Samuel Kilby-Shaw (left) and Paul Joyce were excused from the meeting

Two councillors walked out of a planning meeting due to proposed homes from a council-owned company not being ‘eco-friendly’ enough.

The two councillors, Samuel Kilby-Shaw and Paul Joyce, took their stance less than 24 hours after Northampton Borough Council declared a ‘climate emergency’ on Monday evening.

The borough council declared a climate emergency on Monday following passionate representations from the public

The borough council declared a climate emergency on Monday following passionate representations from the public

The duo, who are both members of the authority’s planning committee, walked out of Tuesday evening’s meeting amicably, shortly before they were due to consider eight housing applications from the borough council-owned Northampton Partnership Homes.

Conservative Councillor Kilby-Shaw, who has been appointed as the council’s climate champion, said: “I can’t support this because of the energy figures that have been mentioned. I’m going to be pushing for standards to be increased for new house builds in terms of energy and solar panels. So I don’t think I can support any of these applications.”

The ‘climate emergency’ was declared following a motion from Labour Councillor Joyce, which aims to make Northampton carbon neutral by 2030 and ban single-use plastics. And he backed up the views of his fellow planning committee member.

He said: “I stand in solidarity with what Councillor Kilby-Shaw has said, and he is very right to say what he has said. We need to take a stand on climate change as the clock is ticking. So I don’t feel like I can really take part either and ask to be excused.”

Following the departure of the two councillors, the remaining members turned their conversation to the impact that the new climate emergency would have on planning procedure.

Head of planning Peter Baguley said: “At the moment we don’t have any policies for any non-use of fossil fuels, and the climate emergency declaration from Monday doesn’t take precedence. We will have to make sure that planning catches up with it.

“We are about the delivery of new buildings, and we want them as energy efficient as possible. We haven’t made any decisions yet as the declaration was made less than 24 hours ago, but we will be working with lead councillors and Cllr Kilby-Shaw. But it does have to be policy-led.”