An ensemble of environmental groups has created an online showcase of North Yorkshire Council election candidates’ views surrounding climate change, in an attempt to provide clarity to voters over key issues facing the county such as fracking and pollution.
In what is believed to be the first pre-election survey of its kind in the county, all the candidates contesting to serve a five-year term on the new unitary authority have been asked to respond to up to ten questions set by North Yorkshire Climate Coalition.
The coalition represents a wide range of community-based interest associations spread across the county, such as Brandsby Women’s Institute, Thirsk Churches Ecology Group, Clapham Sustainability Group and Zero Carbon Harrogate, to CPRE North and East Yorkshire, Thirsk Friends of the Earth and climate action groups for Stokesley, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Nidderdale and Northallerton.
Responsibilities for the incoming 90 councillors will also include decisions over the extent to which the county’s greenfield sites should be developed – an issue which has generated significant controversy at several North Yorkshire local authorities in recent years.
Organisers of the survey said they hoped it would help focus candidates’ minds on the damage being caused to the natural world.
On a website launched this week, nyclimatecoalition.org, voters can view how and whether candidates in each of the 89 divisions responded to questions such as what role the region should play in creating energy from onshore wind and solar farms and fracking.
Candidates are also being challenged to state how the new council should tackle the county’s biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions – transport, agriculture and domestic energy.
The move follows experts highlighting how climate change has already started to impact on the county’s communities, economy, wildlife and landscapes, with incidents such as increasingly frequent severe flooding.
An independent commission set up to examine levelling up for rural communities in the county last year found tackling climate change should be a priority, backing an ambition for North Yorkshire to become a ‘green lung’ and to lead on employment in the green economy and a revolutionary energy transition.
David Tonge, of Thirsk Friends of the Earth said numerous candidates had already responded to the survey.
He said: “We hope that all candidates will see the importance of providing this information to voters given that these issues are so much in the news at the moment.
“What we are trying to achieve is raise the profile of environment and climate issues and get candidates to understand these are important positions. They are going to be deciding on big issues such as the decarbonisation of North Yorkshire, so they need to be well informed.”