Climate change and sustainability are to be put at the heart of decision-making at Hertfordshire County Council.

Members of the county council unanimously backed the declaration of a climate emergency in July 2019, and on Monday, October 19, it was agreed that any proposal considered by county councillors should now include a section dedicated to its climate change and sustainability implications.

Presenting the proposal, deputy council leader Cllr Teresa Heritage said the section would make council officers think about the implications of what they were suggesting.

And, she said, it would also ensure councillors were considering the impact of their decision making on all matters related to sustainability.

The climate change and sustainability implications will now be referenced in all cabinet panel reports requiring a decision. And the practice will be reviewed after 12 months.

Welcoming the move, executive member for public health and prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings said: “I think this will really challenge us. I think it is a brave move. I think it’s the right move and I support it entirely with great enthusiasm.”

And council leader Cllr David Williams said: “I like to think we are at the vanguard on this.

The idea – initially suggested to a meeting of the full council in February – was also backed by a meeting of the performance and resources cabinet panel.

In July last year the decision to declare a climate emergency received unanimous cross-party support, following similar motions the previous month at borough and district councils in North Herts, St Albans, Stevenage, and Welwyn Hatfield.

The motion committed the county council to developing a ‘Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy’ that will set out the policies, strategies and implementation plans so it can meet sustainability requirements across all of the council’s services.

Hertsmere Borough Council then followed suit by declaring a climate emergency in September last year.

Speaking at the time, county council leader Cllr David Williams said: “It’s vital that we have this clear and solid commitment to improving sustainability.