Helston needs to “start acting” and not wait for others before taking steps against climate change.

This was the plea from members of Helston Transition and other environmentalists in the area, who want to see the town council actively taking steps to reduce carbon emissions and spread awareness.

They returned to this week’s meeting of the council, a month after urging councillors to declare a “climate emergency” and help stop global warming at 1.5°C above pre industrial levels – something that is currently on track to be breached by 2030.

At the time, Helston mayor John Martin agreed that everyone on the council had concerns, but he wished to hear the countywide strategy before taking it further in Helston.

Since then Cornwall Council has itself declared a state of climate emergency and voted to step up efforts to tackle climate change in the county – with an ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030 - and urge the government to do more.

Catherine Lewis, a member of Transition Helston, who lives in the town, told the town’s councillors this week: “The urgency for us here in Helston is no less than anywhere else, so why is it not on the agenda?

“What is Helston Town Council doing to address the climate emergency we are facing? Why are we being left behind?

“We are still here, willing to work with you. But for this, we need you to make that commitment to act. It is not enough to say that you will wait for Cornwall Council to decide what they are going to do, and for this to filter down to local councils.

“Cornwall Council’s report is not due for another five months. There are things you could be doing right now, starting tomorrow.”

Karen La Borde, Green Party parliamentary candidate for west Cornwall constituency of St Ives, including Helston, put forward ideas to the council of how it could take immediate steps.

These included asking the town clerk to switch the council’s energy provider to a renewable energy company – an act she said would make “a huge difference” to carbon emissions.

Other ideas included switching to LED bulbs – something the council already uses – and keeping the heating on a lower thermostat.

To tackle the ecological crisis, in which 75 per cent of insect life has been lost over the last 40 years and 60 per cent of wildlife in the UK, green areas could be managed differently by not manicuring everything and letting it grow out in places, natural materials used for fencing and natural habitats recreated.

When giving opinions on planning applications, the council could ask for no use of oil as a heating source and for homes to be insulated to the highest standard.

Justine Hornsby, chair of Helston in Bloom, who also happened to be at the meeting, said the group already did not use insecticides and had plans to develop a habitat area on a large grass verge near Coronation Park, well set back from the road.

Councillor Dave Potter said the fact the group had attended two meetings in a row showed how serious they were, while councillor Miles Kenchington agreed fully with Transition Helston and said: “It’s about the push up rather than the push down.”

This prompted councillor Gillian Geer to suggest all councillors attend the March meeting with a strategy for going forward.

Mayor John Martin believed a special meeting should take place, which will now take place this Thursday, February 28, in the Guildhall at 7.30pm. This will be open for anyone to attend and speak at, with ideas raised taken to the next full council meeting.

Councillor Ronnie Williams assured people that “more is being done in this area for the environment than people know,” pointing to the work of the National Trust at Loe Pool as an example.

Helston Town Council has also agreed to support the town becoming a "plastic free community" and has already started taking steps towards this. 

More information about getting rid of single-use plastic can be found in the video above.