A group has been formed to tackle climate change in Test Valley following a vote by the borough council, which will seek to influence improvements across the borough.

Councillors on Test Valley Borough Council’s (TVBC) Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSCOM) approved a plan to establish a Climate Emergency Action Plan panel which will oversee steps to make Test Valley carbon neutral by 2050.

Councillor Neil Gwynne, the council’s climate emergency champion, said that “targets are the priority” of the panel, with the impact on other services that may occur as part of steps to cut carbon beyond their purview.

TVBC declared a climate emergency in 2019, and subsequently introduced a climate emergency action plan to outline the ways it aims to reach carbon neutrality.

Cllr Gwynne was a leading member in drafting the first action plan, leading to him being chosen to advise the council going forward as its member champion.

He said the plan was a “living document” that requires regular updates “every now and then”.

He said: “That’s been highlighted by the recent decision that the government aims to cut carbon by 78 per cent of neutrality by 2035. That is a very different situation to the one where the plan was put together, so there is a need to revisit it with a potential to update it, and we need a timescale for when that will be launched.

“The first iteration of the plan had very few targets and that was understandable as we didn’t have the baseline data at that point. But that can’t be how we go forward, we do need quantified updated targets.

“Secondly, it’s extremely important it’s not limited to factors TVBC controls, our influence is also an essential part of this. And finally, those targets are the priority.”

The panel will be formed of councillors from across the borough, with no members in the north of the borough having volunteered the time of the report’s writing. Following an appeal by Cllr Gwynne, Cllrs Tony Burley, Alan Parker and David Coole volunteered.

The latter highlighted there could sometimes be a difference in priorities, saying: “I think the plan has financial benefits to the council but should also target carbon reduction benefits. There are returns on two different angles, and we may choose to go for carbon reduction over cost reduction or vice versa.”

Cllr Parker, meanwhile, said the panel should liaise with parish councils in order to co-ordinate action across the borough.

Cllr Gwynne concurred, saying that “accessing external views is essential in creating an updated action plan”. He said that non-councillors would also be involved through consultations with Andover Vision and Romsey Future.

The scoping document for the panel was then adopted.