The deputy leader of Neath Port Talbot Council has said the local authority will be taking immediate steps to change the way it operates following the declaration by Welsh Government of a climate emergency.

Anthony Taylor made a statement at the full council meeting on Wednesday September 4, offering “wholehearted support” for the declaration and promising to take concrete steps to change the way the council “takes forward our stewardship of the county borough”.

He told councillors: “We have existing duties which, of course remain relevant but, more importantly, we also have an essential community leadership role as well as being a landowner, an employer and a regulator.

“Part of that work will be to further embed the Future Generations Act’s ways of working in the council’s frameworks and to further integrate it with the council’s well-being objectives.

“On July 31, cabinet agreed to consult on our draft decarbonisation and renewable energy strategy developed around three strategic themes including transportation, buildings and spaces, and influencing behaviour.

“That document outlined what we are already doing in a number of areas and we will work collaboratively going forward.

“The cabinet will be returning to this strategy once the consultation is complete and bringing forward more detailed proposals on areas including energy, use of resources, enhancing the natural environment and transport.”

Cllr Taylor pointed out the council would have to take into account the county’s “unique challenges”  including its heavy manufacturing sector and congested motorway while seeking to deliver a low carbon future in the short, medium and long term.

He said: “At the end of July, the cabinet also signed off our revised City Deal business case which contains a new decarbonisation strand on top of a previous business case targeting energy efficient housing.

“Again, we will be working closely with partners including FLEXIS to deliver on that strand and we look to government to inject momentum and urgency into the City Deal process so that we can get to grips with delivery as quickly as possible.”

He added: “I will not pretend that all this is going to be easy – changing behaviour doesn’t happen overnight and some of what we need to do may run counter to the current expectations of citizens but that is no reason for not doing it.

“Communication with residents, businesses, community groups and others will be crucial.

“It is the responsibility of us all to address this emergency or we will have failed future generations.

“It is now critical that the rhetoric is matched by action.

“We have made a start but there is still much more to do.

“I look forward to working with colleagues and officers in the coming weeks and months to make these words become reality.”