DEMANDS for the Government to speed up work on tackling climate change have been unanimously backed at a Cumbria County Council meeting.

However, the 84-strong authority stopped short of declaring a ‘climate emergency’ with some councillors questioning the evidence.

Cllr Rebecca Hanson, the Liberal Democrat for Cockermouth, won cross-party support for her motion that the Government deliver a ‘clear plan of action and resources’ for councils to tackle the issue.

Member of the public, John Hall, a dentist in Kendal and a Kendal Mountain Rescue member for 20 years, called on the council to declare a climate emergency.

He outlined flooding in Kendal in 2015, Cockermouth in 2009 and Carlisle, as well as record temperatures and flash flooding this summer.

Mr Hall suggested the council ‘disinvest’ from the fossil fuel industry and pump Local Government Pension Scheme funds into low-carbon industries.

Celia Tibble, the cabinet member for the environment, outlined a range of things the council had done to cut emissions but said it could not solve the issue alone.

Cllr Tibble, the Labour councillor for Seaton, said: “Government leadership and funding is essential if partners are to come together and work collaboratively to tackle climate change.”

Cllr Gareth Ellis did not disagree with the motion but questioned some of the statements. “Let’s work together and explore the potential for solar, hydro-electric and wind generation,” said Cllr Ellis, the Conservative member for Belah, Carlisle.

Cllr Nicholas Marriner did not deny human activities had ‘damaged’ the environment, but said climate change had existed since ‘time immemorial’.

“How many people here know that 10 million years ago the Ice Age covered all this country in thick ice and disappeared in 100 years,” said Cllr Marriner, the Conservative member for Wetheral.

Cllr Andrew Connell, the Liberal Democrat for Appleby, pointed out that he had attended the meeting by bus and was going back on the train.

“There’s always the argument that it’s India and China’s fault so what can we do about it? You can only start where you are and you can only do what you can,” said Cllr Connell.

Cllr Tony Lywood said the idea that major weather events were ‘coincidental’ was ‘ridiculous’. “What I hear from the opposition is a lukewarm welcoming of this,” said Cllr Lywood, the Labour councillor for Keswick.

Cllr Chris Whiteside urged every councillor to vote for it. “This is not the sort of subject where we should be quibbling about the odd word,” said Cllr Whiteside, the Conservative member for Egremont North and St Bees.