A CLIMATE Emergency was declared by the Isle of Wight Council last night (Wednesday) — but the decision was far from unanimous and watered down from the initial proposal.

After almost an hour of debate, which included heckling from the public gallery, the authority voted in favour of the declaration — although one senior councillor admitted he was a 'climate change sceptic.'

The motion to declare a Climate Emergency was initially put forward by Cllr Michael Lilley, and asked the council to establish a 'climate change board' to underpin the Island's decarbonising efforts.

It was supported by members of the Green Party and Extinction Rebellion, who held a demonstration outside County Hall before the meeting.

The wording of the motion was similar to that approved by many of the 171 other unitary, county and district councils across the country that have already made the declaration.

Cllr Lilley said: "July is on track to become one of the Earth's hottest months on record. We're obviously quite quite hot tonight.

"This is real evidence the planet's overall climate is warming and this extreme heatwave is more likely in the future unless we start taking action today."

An amendment to the motion was submitted by cabinet member Cllr Steve Hastings in writing, which excluded the creation of a climate change board.

It also removed the resolution to write to government requesting additional powers, and altered the wording so the goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030 was an aim rather than a commitment.

Cllr Lilley said he accepted the amendment because he felt it was important to secure the council's support to pass the motion.

However, Cllr Chris Whitehouse said the amendment was 'unconstitutional' and 'unlawful.'

He said he had the most knowledge of climate change in the room and wanted to remove the line declaring a Climate Emergency.

Cllr Whitehouse said he believed climate change was probably a problem, but the council was not qualified to comment on it.

To this, a member of the public gallery shouted 'bollocks'.

Cllr Stuart Hutchinson said he was a climate sceptic and it was 'fairly unlikely' human activity was affecting the climate.

Cllr Gary Peace said to declare a Climate Emergency would just be symbolic and he did not agree with voting for something for symbolism.

The motion eventually passed with 23 votes for, six against and six abstentions.

The length of the debate meant that two other motions were not heard.

Vix Lowthion, spokesperson for the Isle of Wight Green Party, said: "While it is welcome the Isle of Wight Council has declared a Climate Emergency, the fact remains this was via a diluted motion.

"The crucial 2030 target for net zero carbon emissions is now to be a mere 'aim' rather than a commitment.

"However, what was most concerning was the poor quality of the debate in the council chamber. It clearly showed the Isle of Wight has elected climate sceptics in the past.

"Too many councillors are truly ignorant of the state our planet is in and the critical measures we must to take to deal with the climate crisis."

An Extinction Rebellion Isle of Wight statement said: "Extinction rebellion warmly welcome the declaration of a climate emergency on the Isle of Wight, we look forward to seeing the council prepare plans for radically reducing the carbon footprint of the Island in line with scientific recommendations.

"However, we are concerned that the motion was not passed unanimously as has been the case in most councils and was passed without the support of the leader of the council. We hope that this does not impact on the democratically mandated steps outlined in the text of the motion."

Voters against: Cllrs Dave Stewart, Barry Abraham, Stuart Hutchinson, Chris Whitehouse, Ian Ward, Gary Peace.

Abstentions: Cllrs Brian Tyndall, John Nicholson, Tig Outlaw, Paul Brading, Michael Beston, Graham Perks.