SHROPSHIRE Council has held back from declaring its support for a new law aimed at ramping up the UK’s fight against climate change.

Calls for the authority to publicly back the Climate & Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill failed to win over members at a meeting of the full council on Thursday.

It was however agreed that a group of councillors would be set up to scrutinise the bill, and put forward a recommendation on what stance the council should take at a future meeting.

A motion tabled by Green Party councillor Julian Dean, Labour’s Kate Halliday and the Liberal Democrat Group urged the council to support the bill and write to county MPs asking them to vote for it.

Introduced as a private member’s bill by Green MP Caroline Lucas, it sets out a roadmap for the UK to meet its Paris Agreement targets and help keep the increase in average global temperatures under 1.5C.

Councillor Dean said: “The issue we face is that we are absolutely not on track. The government’s own Climate Change Committee says as much, as well as all the independent commentators.

“Generally speaking they say the framework is simply not there in the UK to achieve even the government’s own target of (net zero emissions by) 2050, which I would argue is too late.

“The second part of the bill is to do with the ecological emergency, and that’s not something we as a council have discussed before, but we ought to recognise before it’s too late that there is a looming crisis.

“We are facing two parallel and related crises that need addressing and we are not in any way on track. This bill is attempting to bring us on track.”

Cllr Dean Carroll, portfolio holder for climate change, said the council should instead convene a task and finish group to look in detail at the bill before members vote on whether to support it.

He said this had been done successfully with other bills the council had been asked to take a position on, and that it was “categorically not” a wrecking amendment.

Cllr Carroll added: “It’s a very important issue and we need to do it justice.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Roger Evans said passing it over to a task and finish group would cause months of delays which could not be afforded, with the bill due to have its second reading in a matter of weeks.

Cllr Evans said: “I am against this amendment, I view it as kicking it into the long grass.

“This council has declared a climate emergency. We need to do something like this now.”

His concerns were echoed by Cllr Dean, who said: “The risk here is that there is actually no way for us to get that together in the time that’s required.

“This bill is going to the next stage before we go to elections, so we need to deal with this now.

“People have had plenty of time to look at it, they have had lobbying, they have had a chance to read the bill.”

Cllr Carroll’s amendment, that the bill be looked at by a task and finish group, was voted through and the motion was carried.

The move has been criticised by the Shropshire CEE Bill Alliance, which said the delay did not reflect the urgency of the legislation.

Ahead of the meeting, more than 500 county residents had lobbied their councillors through the group’s website to support the motion.

Campaigner Gill Davis, from Much Wenlcok, said: “I feel very upset about this. This is a bill designed to help the UK meet its Paris Agreement targets and keep us all safe.”

Fellow group member Jamie Russell, from Shrewsbury, likened the amendment to “seeing a house on fire and offering to come back next week to rescue the family inside”.

He added: “All the council had to do was voice its public support for the bill as other local authorities, including Conservative-led ones, have done."