‘Refusing all planning permissions, ripping out gas fire boilers in council houses, closing all car parks, and discouraging tourism’ would be the price of a 2025 deadline for carbon neutrality, councillors have been told.

Mark Williams, chief officer of East Devon District Council (EDDC), defended the county council's 2050 deadline at a meeting on April 24, after a member called for the council to act 'proactively and urgently'.

Councillor Roger Giles proposed a motion to achieve a more challenging target but saw it rejected on the grounds that the council's cabinet will discuss the matter again.

Mr Williams said: "If you are really serious about doing something by 2025, you will be refusing all planning permissions, ripping out gas fire boilers in council houses, closing all car parks, and discouraging tourism.

"Think about Good Friday and the traffic jam through the Blackdown Hills caused by all the people wanting to come to East Devon.

"There are a lot of things that will be required to happen which will fundamentally change how the council operates and the message it wants to send out to the rest of East Devon."

He confirmed a report would come back to cabinet early in the life of the new council, with 2025 carbon neutrality as the starting point.

Earlier this month EDDC's cabinet agreed to work with Devon County Council on a shared climate change programme. As part of the initiative, the cabinet considered a more ambitious date than the county's 2050 target, with a further report to be produced about how it could be achieved.

Cllr Giles said the council's initiatives lacked ambition and praised the work of teenage activist Greta Thunberg who met political party leaders in Westminster, the day before.

He said: "The report on climate change which went to Cabinet on April 3 contained a large number of initiatives. It is hard to imagine that anyone would object to any of them.

"But that is the problem. The proposals are very modest. They show a lack of ambition. The report does not recognise or address the seriousness or urgency of the situation.

"Just what kind of message are we sending to Greta, and to the young people of East Devon who will suffer the consequences of our inaction? It really isn't good enough."

Leader of the council Ian Thomas said he agreed that a more ambitious target than 2050 was needed and that the figure was not acceptable, but that plucking numbers out of the air was not the way forward.