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Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy - Your ideas

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Call for ideas

In December 2019, we asked members of the public to submit ideas on how Dorset Council might be able to help tackle climate and ecology concerns. The Call for Ideas was open to everyone through the Council’s website and was promoted widely through the local media and the Council’s social media channels. 

Of the 783 ideas received in the Council’s Call for Ideas, 32 were invited to present at one of the two Inquiry Day sessions which took place at South Walks House, Dorchester on Friday 21 February and Tuesday 3 March respectively.

Key findings

When submitting ideas, individuals and organisations were asked to choose a category (Buildings, Natural Environment, Waste and Energy, Transport, Leadership and Influence). 

The most commonly selected was Transport, with 26% of all ideas submitted falling within this category. The category with the fewest submissions was leadership with just 8% of the ideas.

Transport and travel

This was the most common topic, with many people mentioning the need to develop Dorset’s transport links, specifically calling for improvements to be made to the County’s footpaths and cycleways, and investment in bus and rail services. 

An increase in EV charging points, and increased traffic control measures were also mentioned frequently. This is in addition to other common suggestions, including increasing park and ride schemes, introducing car-free days in towns, using parking charges to discourage unnecessary car journeys, and introducing no-idling zones.

Renewable energy generation

107 of all the ideas submitted mentioned renewable energy generation. Ideas focusing on solar power in Dorset were the most common. Examples of these ideas include installing solar PV on the roofs of all Council owned buildings, the introduction of grant schemes to help residents install solar PV on domestic properties and incentivising solar installation through reduced Business Rates.

Other renewable technologies commonly mentioned were wind, tidal, heat-pumps, hydro, wave, anaerobic digestion, and multi-measure approaches, with several people calling for the Navitus Bay offshore wind farm plan to be re-visited.

Waste services

Many of the ideas in this area focused on improving the waste collection and recycling services in the County. This included people calling for an increase in recycling facilities, clearer instructions on what and how to recycle, and the adoption of a circular waste economy in Dorset.

Other recurring themes included initiatives to reduce litter, the introduction and enforcement of single-use-plastic policies, and waste heat schemes.


This was the most commonly mentioned theme, with 151 (19%) of all ideas focusing on planning considerations and restrictions. Within this theme, ideas centred around three main topics:

  • Tighter restrictions on developers
  • Relaxation of planning restrictions for listed buildings
  • Prioritisation of brownfield sites for development

Of these topics, the most commonly mentioned was imposing tighter restrictions on housing developers. These ideas ranged from making sure all new buildings are built with solar panels and EV charge points, to stopping developers from felling mature trees with many between.

Leading the way

A high proportion of the ideas submitted focused on the leadership role of the Council, and key changes it can make to its own operations and behaviours to set an example for the rest of the County. Recurring themes under this heading included:

  • investment in electric or biofuel vehicles
  • following examples of others
  • implementing stricter laws
  • reducing the footprint of the Council’s buildings
  • making changes to the Council’s operations
  • working with partners
  • lobbying central government
  • developing and publishing plans
  • making changes to street lighting
  • divesting from fossil fuel investments
  • public consultation
  • monitoring, recording, and publishing data

Communication and support

Many of the ideas called on the Council to provide more information and support on understanding climate change and the steps that can be taken to tackle it. The key audiences for this support were identified as residents, businesses, farms, and schools. Furthermore, ideas included the development of a support platform or hub, increased communication and education, and the sharing of best practice.

Support for community action was another recurring theme under this heading. Many people suggested that the Council should help facilitate and support new and existing community-led projects.

Natural environment

Tree planting schemes featured heavily in the ideas submitted, with many people wanting the Council to plant more trees and support others to do the same. People also suggested re-wilding schemes that could be introduced in the County and the need for this approach to be reflected in wider policy making and planning decisions.  People also asked for an increase in environmental protections, changes in greenspace management, and a reduction in the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides.

Several people suggested adopting a less impactful approach to verge side management, something that Dorset Council pioneered. 


The top three barriers to implementing ideas identified by people were:

  • funds (31%)
  • no barriers (23%)
  • resistance to change (17%)

Engaging with Dorset’s youth

It was also key that we heard from Dorset’s young people on the issue of Climate Change and what it meant to them. Representatives from schools across Dorset and Kingston Mauward College came to speak to the Council’s EAP in December. They told us about their major concerns of what climate change may mean to their futures and worries about the type of world they will be inheriting in years to come. They asked that we take action to reduce carbon emissions and encourage everyone in Dorset to take action.

EAP members visited Damers school to learn about all their eco-school initiatives already encouraging local businesses to act by removing single use plastics. They also presented their ideas at the Inquiry Day in March.

Members of Dorset Youth Council also attended the Inquiry Day session and updated on their actions to develop a climate pledge for Dorset and their work to encourage schools to take greater action. They also laid down a challenge to Councillors to reduce their personal carbon footprint in the #CouncillorZeroCarbonChallenge.

We will make sure the youth view informs the development of our action to tackle climate change in Dorset.

Using your ideas

We have taken account of the key findings and recurring themes raised through our engagement with Dorset residents and have used these to help shape this strategy and the Council’s approach to tackling and mitigating climate change in Dorset. You will see this within the relevant areas for action section within this strategy, as well as in the more detailed supporting papers.

As we move forward to develop more detailed plans for the delivery of the strategy, we will draw on the specific detail of the individual ideas submitted.

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