SWINDON Borough Council thinks it knows better than a number of international nations.

That was the accusation levelled at the Civic Offices by Swindon Extinction Rebellion campaigner Tristan Strange.

Speaking at the climate protests that have this week closed off parts of central Bristol, Mr Strange said urged his local council to follow the lead of the UK Parliament, France, Germany and Ireland in declaring a climate emergency and take swifter action to tackle global warming.

“It’s about time you declared a climate emergency,” said Mr Strange.

“It seems our councillors think they know better than a number of different countries that are kicking about at the moment.

“Set a target for when you’re going to go carbon neutral. There are 80 odd councils that have done this.

“I just can’t understand why you don’t make this more than an aspiration.”

In January, Conservative councillors blocked an attempt by Labour’s Jane Milner-Barry, councillor for Old Town, that would have required the council to use planning laws to ensure new buildings were as close as possible to being carbon neutral. She said: “There’s no use denying there’s a climate emergency – declare one now.”

Responding to Mr Strange’s comments, Coun Keith Williams, for Swindon Borough Council, said: “We have set a target to be carbon neutral by 2030 and our cross-party Climate Change Working Group is committed to ensuring that we work across the council to hit this target.

“Earlier this year a motion was passed at full council which recognised the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and, since then, the council has been looking at ways to include climate change mitigation measures in all areas of its work.

“Policies such as planting more trees, ensuring green spaces are built into developments and making sure new homes have high standards of water efficiency are just some examples.

“We aim to be bold, flexible and creative in our thinking to make Swindon an exemplar in what can be achieved in the fight against climate change and we have already engaged with members of Swindon Climate Action Network, Extinction Rebellion and others to realise this aim.”

In February, Wiltshire councillors backed a motion to declare a climate emergency, agreeing an ambition to make the county carbon neutral by 2030.

Claire Perry, Devizes MP and energy minister, praised the council’s motion: “The evidence is clear that society needs to do more, which is why we've asked independent climate experts for advice on a net zero emissions target."