Lewisham Council has declared a “climate emergency” the same day contractors began demolishing the Tidemill garden to make way for tower blocks. 

A motion calling on the mayor and cabinet to “do everything within their power” to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030 was unanimously passed by councillors.

But the motion was met with cries of hypocrisy from the public gallery.

Plans between the council and housing association Peabody include the demolition of the garden and Reginald House to make way for 209 homes – with 117 of the homes to be let at ‘genuinely affordable’ rent.

MORE: Outrage as tree-felling begins at Tidemill garden in Deptford

This follows a long dispute between locals and the council, after campaigners pushed for development plans to be re-drawn to keep the garden.

During the motion members of the public yelled, “hypocrites, not one of you stood up for Tidemill”.

Clean air campaigner Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debra also said in a tweet that the motion's timing was "insensitive".

"Did the clueless council declare a climate emergency on the same day they demolished Tidemill? A council with no clue, how insensitive. Deptford has high pollution levels but creating a clean air zone is very low priority," she wrote.

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Cllr Tauseef Anwar, who introduced the motion, said “we are the first generation to realise [the effects of climate change]… and we are the last to be able to to something about it.”

“It is time to panic.”

The council should now launch a review on how to make the borough carbon neutral, including preparing a draft ‘action plan’ on climate change before April next year.

The council should also draw up a communications strategy to help residents make low-carbon choices.

An executive director at the council will be tasked with ensuring emissions are reducing across the council’s work in housing, transport, regeneration, planning and the corporate estate.

The council should also help residents access funding for improved heating and insulation, and ensure the climate emergency is reflected in its plans.

Cllr Anwar also called on “central government to provide us with resources to deliver this successfully.”

MORE: Lewisham air pollution a 'health crisis' says Mayor of London

Local volunteer Joanne Graham said she worked with councillors and Declare a Climate Emergency to draft the motion.

She said the council was one of two local authorities in London and one of 30-odd councils across the country to declare a climate emergency, with work now starting to prepare the action plan.

Research by experts at Goldsmiths found levels of pollution in New Cross and Deptford are up to six times higher than World Health Organisation guidelines.

The data shows that pollution levels throughout Lewisham regularly exceeded the WHO guidelines for certain chemicals and particles in the air.