CLIMATE change action plans for Dorset, described as ‘too little, too late’ by Extinction Rebellion, could cost around £130 million to put into action, it has been revealed.

Dorset Council members have now been warned that current budget problems mean it was now unlikely all the work could be achieved without extra financial support.

The authority is currently calculating how it can meet an extra £60 million of spending caused by the pandemic, before it even makes a start on its climate and ecological action plan which is due to go out for public consultation around the end of October.

Finance brief holder Councillor Gary Suttle admitted the council was ‘unlikely’ to get much extra in the way of Government support. The authority currently faces a predicted shortfall of almost £22m for the next financial year.

He told Cllr Kelvin Clayton, who questioned the climate funding proposals, that while he had a ‘strong commitment’ to climate change funding he could not guarantee it being fully financed by the council.

“We have yet to see the fully costings. I cannot give you an assurance that we can fully fund the cost because, as I understand it, it’s likely to be in excess of £100million and because of that we have to take a view – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t work going on; there’s a lot of work going on, around power, and the way in which we can try and make inroads into this problem,” he said.

Cabinet brief holder for climate, Cllr Ray Bryan, says the council is able to tackle some aspects of climate policy almost immediately, with little cost. He said the total figure of the policies being proposed was around £130m.

“I am attempting to get the attention of Ministers because some of this funding will have to come from central Government,” he said.

Cllr Bryan said short-term measures included cutting back on staff and councillor travel and switching to electric vehicles when existing ones come to the end of their lives. He said talks were also going on about the authority generating more of its own ‘green’ power needs.

“We can do quite a lot in the short term which won’t cost us a lot of money and we need to get on with that now,” he said, claiming that the plan included around a hundred idea which had relatively little cost to implement.

An eight-week public consultation on the plan is expected to start at the end of October.