Highland Council Climate Emergency

February 2021

Highland Council declared a Climate Emergency in May 2019, and pressure was subsequently exerted urging the need for the declaration to lead to action (see below).  Action which has still not taken place is the setting up of any mention of the Climate Emergency or the Climate Change Panel on the Climate Change page of the Council's website.

A web search uncovered a report submitted to a meeting of the council in June 2019 by the Council's Climate Change Officer Keith Masson, which provides some information about activities resulting from the Climate Emergency declaration.  We have written to Mr Masson asking that a link be set up on the Climate Change page on the council's website to this and more recent information relating to the declaration.


August 2019

Local climate activists from TBI and Extinction Rebellion have felt the need to pressure Highland Council to follow up its declaration of a Climate Emergency with significant action.

TBI Vice-Convenor Martin Sherring emailed TBI directors

"Maggie and I had a long chat with Craig Fraser at the Fortrose Market. The main reason was to find out if there are ways the public can influence THC action following the vote on a climate emergency. It turns out, so far, they have decided to form a cross-party committee – which doesn’t really give much confidence they are taking it seriously. Not that I’ve anything against cross-party committees, but in an emergency one might have thought the committee would already have been formed, met several times, and drawn up an action plan at least.

"Anyway, we thought most people don’t know (a) the powers the Council actually has, and (b) what it’s already doing, so just asking people what they thought is unlikely to be effective. I suggested maybe the old ward forum could be brought back and convened specifically to discuss the actions that the Council can take. Craig seemed positive about that and suggested I email the BI councillors, and Di Agnew."

and subsequently emailed the three Black Isle Councillors - Gordon Adam, Jennifer Barclay and Craig Fraser - on behalf of TBI

"Transition Black Isle congratulates The Highland Council for having recognised the emergency we are facing as a result of human-caused climate change. We believe that far-reaching changes are needed to minimise the impact, and to cope with the inevitable problems that will nevertheless arise. That being the case, we think it would be advisable to engage with the public at an early stage, to demonstrate the Council’s commitment to the issue, inform people about changes they can expect and how they will be affected, and also to learn about residents’ ideas for changes that should be made.

"We therefore suggest that there should be a general public meeting, along the lines of the ward forums that were held until recently, to air these topics – in fact there may need to be a series of meetings, given the extent of the problem and the time needed to implement some changes. We would be very happy to assist in arranging and promoting such an event on the Black Isle."

Anne Thomas, a TBI director, has attended and reported on meetings she and other XR members have had with Highland Council's Climate Change Officer  Keith Masson and Chief Executive Donna Manson

"Since the Climate Emergency was declared 3 of us from Extinction Rebellion met Keith Masson Climate Change officer and Anna the new EV officer.

"Then today 4 of us including Lizbeth, Steve and I met Donna Manson, Chief Executive. I'll attach the notes of what we were intending to say to her. She actually talked quite a lot so we didn't say it all but we were generally quite positive about the meeting and left her with a copy of what we were going to say plus something on citizens' assemblies. The 18 member Climate Panel is in the process of being formed but probably won't report back to the full council till the October meeting but it does actually sound reasonably hopeful. Originally it didn't include the Green as she couldn't be half a rep but hopefully they are sorting that. She has also privately agreed that the Climate Change dept needs more staff and there is a recently agreed change fund which can cover this. In terms of council officers she totally got the idea that Climate Change measures need to come from the top and be embedded right the way down in everything the council does and working with as many partners as possible. She wants me (she only wanted one of us) to accompany her to a meeting with officers/ councillors within the next couple of weeks to discuss what needs to be done. She is hoping the Highlands can host some sort of big conference on what to do about climate change. We emphasised the idea of the Highlands showing leadership and she obviously likes that."

Anne has also provided background notes prepared for the meeting with the Chief Executive.



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