Council excludes climate change from list of risks to area, finds audit

Climate change was not considered as a factor, despite the council declaring a climate emergency in May 2019.

Council excludes climate change from list of risks to area, finds audit LDRS

There has been no mention of climate change on Orkney council’s list of risks, an internal audit has found.

Orkney council hasn’t included climate change in its list of risks to the local authority, despite having declared a climate emergency back in May 2019, an audit has found.

This was included in the conclusions of an internal audit, which looked at the information Orkney council is giving to the Scottish Government to show how it is reducing emissions.

The findings from this report were presented to councillors on the local authority’s Monitoring and Audit Committee this morning.

The local authority has a duty to give annual reports to the Scottish Government, showing Orkney council’s compliance with climate change duties.

This includes delivering information on its emissions reduction targets.

The findings were fairly positive for the council, finding the information the council is providing is well-controlled and managed, reliable, and accurate.

Orkney Green councillor John Ross Scott called the report “heartening”.

However, the audit did come with three recommendations.

One of these states that the council’s corporate risk register and “relevant directorate risk registers” show no mention of climate change.

The word “climate” does not appear in any of them.

This is despite the council declaring a climate emergency in May 2019 and the council plan for the next five years stating that ‘protecting the environment and combating climate change’ is a core principle for the local authority.

Councillor Leslie Manson said the report highlighted the importance of an “objective body looking at the council’s work.”

He said: “We declared a climate emergency, and to me, a climate emergency is quite a serious matter.

“The inclusion of some climate emergency risks in the register is a glaringly obvious action which we all missed.”

Councillor Melissa Thomson said she was sure that the “climate subject is at the heart of the corporate directors.

She added: “Their hands are tied on a lot of subjects. Take the ferries – there’s nothing we can do. But we keep running the ferries.

“If that was cured it would make such a huge difference to the whole climate subject.”

“I welcome the report, but we have to remember they’re doing what they can with what they’ve got.”

The audit report came with two other recommendations.

The first said that the council should strengthen the validation process for the information being sent to the Scottish Government.

Another said documents should be updated to reflect the duty to report information under the Climate Change (Scotland Act) 2009.

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