Climate groups across Cornwall have voiced their disappointment with the outcome of Cornwall Council's recent vote on the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill.

On Wednesday July 14, councillors gathered to vote on a motion brought forward by Lib dem councillor Andrew George calling for councillors to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill.

However, an amendment to the motion was put forward by Conservative Cllr Louis Gardner which removed the support for the CEE Bill and instead looked to press MPs to support the Government’s own Environment Bill.

Cllr Gardner’s amendment was supported by a majority of the council but was then replaced after Lib dem group leader, Edwina Hannaford, proposed that the motion be changed so that the council would support both the Environment Bill and the CEE Bill.

That amendment was accepted by Cllr George but lost when put to the vote with 33 votes in favour, 39 against and five abstentions.

Melissa Benyon, a member of the Helston Climate Action Group as well a Heston Town Councillor said: "The way that it was handled, for someone to put an amendment in which was unrelated to the initial motion, and then for the monitoring officers to say that was okay, I was completely gobsmacked by.

"Because there was a point of order about the change of the bill from the CEE bill to the Environment Bill, somebody said 'Well hang on that's a different motion,' to which the monitoring officer said 'well you are allowed to take some words out and put some words in to a motion as long as you don't substantially change it.'

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"The monitoring officer then said that the motion was not substantially changed, which is not true, it was substantially changed because the CEE bill and the Environment Bill are different."

"The machinations of how that came about completely beggared belief in my opinion."

The Environment Bill is widely seen by environmental groups as failing to address many of the real issues of the climate emergency, and many had hoped that the CEE bill would address these issues and put pressure on the government to stick to its climate targets.

A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion in South East Cornwall said: "I am aghast at the outcome of this vote and feel for the many Councillors who clearly understand the crisis we are facing but have been undermined by the Conservative majority on Cornwall Council.

"I was proud to stand here in January 2019 when Cornwall was one of the first councils in the country to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency.

"The actions of the Conservative Council today is a slap in the face and definitely a step backwards.

"It’s all very well them citing the Environmental Bill, but it lacks weight it and only addresses environmental issues.

"The reason I support the CEE Bill is it would join up the Climate and Ecological emergencies.

"It is such an important piece of legislation."

Councillor Martyn Alvey, Cornwall's Cabinet Member for the environment and climate change, said: "Across all our political parties we committed to creating a carbon-zero Cornwall working with our residents, businesses and partners to strive towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

"This can help us fuel a green recovery to bring environmental, social and economic benefits to our residents.

"This cross party support reflects the fact that the climate emergency is a grave issue that transcends party politics and needs tackling now."

The CEE Bill was tabled in Parliament by Caroline Lucas MP on June 21 2021 and will have its second reading on September 10.