Rugby councillor denies his personal views on climate change are undermining work towards net-zero targets

The deputy leader of Warwickshire County Council has refuted assertions that his views on climate change are undermining work towards net-zero targets.
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Rugby councillor Peter Butlin (Con, Admirals & Cawston) came under fire from Green counterparts this week over posts that appeared on his personal Twitter account.

One in particular was seized upon from March 2 this year when Cllr Butlin shared an article by the Telegraph which stated that heat pumps have triggered a revolt against net zero.

In a reply to his own post, Cllr Butlin posted: “Setting targets with unproven technologies is stupid. As stated, all net zero targets should be scrapped.”

Warwickshire County Council meet at Shire Hall in Warwick.Warwickshire County Council meet at Shire Hall in Warwick.
Warwickshire County Council meet at Shire Hall in Warwick.

Back in 2021, we tried to speak to Cllr Butlin about his views - but he refused to speak to us.

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The county council declared a climate emergency in July 2019 with a commitment to decarbonising its buildings and vehicles, supporting communities to reduce emissions, installing more electric vehicle charging, promoting cycling and walking, particularly to schools, and furthering strategies on waste, flood prevention, transport policy and planning development.

The matter was raised when the Green Party put forward an amendment to planned work to boost school capacity in various parts of Warwickshire.

Councillor Jonathan Chilvers (Green, Leamington Brunswick), the leader of his group, said that net zero options should be costed before work proceeds.

The Conservatives insisted there was not enough time if the county is to create sufficient capacity in time for September 2024 but that such costings would be considered in the council's future projects.

Cllr Chilvers welcomed that but argued: “I think that is where questions have to be asked, about why we were not doing this years and years ago, why it wasn’t built into the original process.

“You can understand why, when the second-most influential councillor in this room, Councillor Butlin, recently made public that he thinks all net zero targets should be abolished, I am wondering whether that is why we haven’t been doing this for the past four years.

“I think we need to ask the question as to why we have been lagging behind on this. We are doing the schools and the children a disservice by not doing it as well as we could.”

Cllr Butlin replied: “Policies get voted through, we come to a consensus and we vote them through.

“There is nothing in my personal views about net zero that is holding anything up in this authority in terms of our commitment.”

He added: “I take issue with the fact that you think I hold things up because of my personal views.

"I do not, I leave Heather (Councillor Heather Timms, portfolio holder for environment, climate and culture) with free rein and she does her job without interference from me, I assure you of that.”

Councillor Will Roberts (Green, Leamington Willes) then picked up the baton during questions for cabinet members.

He asked: “Considering meeting net zero commitments falls within one of Warwickshire County Council’s three strategic priorities, could you please clarify your position on this. Do you believe all net zero targets should be dropped?”

Cllr Butlin referred back to his earlier answers, adding: “I am continually looking at the data to support your premise.”