A CLIMATE protest outside an East Lothian Council cabinet meeting in Haddington on Tuesday ended with the group being invited into the meeting.

Friends of the Earth East Lothian organised the protest, which took place outside Haddington Town House, ahead of a meeting of the council’s cabinet to approve the local authority’s Climate Change Strategy.

Those who attended the protest agreed that the main reasons behind it was due to what they considered to be a lack of time they had to properly look at and respond to the climate strategy document.

They said that due to the fact the lengthy document was only made public last week, people had not been given the chance to read it, which Lorna Telford, from Friends of the Earth East Lothian, said was not good enough.

The strategy was drawn up following a series of public consultations over an 18-month period.

Fintan Hurley, from Musselburgh, agreed with Lorna and added: “We have all had a lot of other things to do so have not had time to talk to our local councillors about [the Climate Change Strategy document]; they are approachable people but we simply haven’t had the time to look at it properly.

“However, there has been a lot of work done on the document over the months.”

Lorna also wanted answers from Councillor Norman Hampshire, cabinet member for environment, as to why she had not heard a response relating to her previous request to encourage East Lothian Council’s pension fund to stop investing in fossil fuels.

A number of councillors approached the group, including Mr Hampshire, who told Lorna that he had approached the pension fund and submitted a response.

But he added he wasn’t able to do much more than that, as the council didn’t have representation on the fund’s board of trustees. 

Lorna added that she was delighted councillors were all behind the Climate Change Strategy, with Mr Hampshire saying that educating the public about the changes they needed to make was crucial, and changes were needed to stop further costs down the line.

Councillors Fiona O’Donnell, Fiona Dugdale, Shamin Akhtar, John McMillan and Jim Goodfellow, as well as senior council official Douglas Proudfoot, also approached the group ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, with many others saying hello as they walked into the meeting.

Mr Proudfoot told the protestors there had already been two public consultations on the strategy.

While Ms O’Donnell sung the praises of the group, saying: “People like you make us think about climate change, which impacts most of us here and abroad.”

When she spotted children at the protest, she added: “It is about the young generation, they are the ones all living with it.”

Mr Goodfellow said that responsibility lay with national government, which, he said, needed to change legislation so further changes could be made to keep in line with targets.

East Lothian Provost John McMillan assured protestors “we are all on the same side” and, alongside Ms Akhtar, requested clear pathways for consultation with a focus on outside bodies and engagement with young people.

He then invited the group into the meeting to let them hear what was being discussed.

The strategy was approved by the cabinet.