Bolton Council's bid to become net zero by 2030 is "unachievable" according to one councillor amid an edgy exchange at the town hall.

The council set itself the target two and a half years ago without the support of the Conservative Group which was in power at the time.

Martyn Cox, who was the leader at the time, is an outspoken opponent of the bid to become net zero by 2030, eight years before the Greater Manchester Combined Authority target which is 12 years before the government target. In January he wrote in The Bolton News about its consequences for the borough's businesses and households.

And this month the leader of the Tories said it is "unachievable" after a presentation on its progress to the Place Scrutiny Committee.

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Cllr Cox said: "At some point or other we are going to have to get real on this and accept 2030 might have been the ambition but it is eight years before the Greater Manchester target which is 12 years before the government target. 

"At some point we are going to have to have to get real on this and accept the position was not realistic as a lot of us said at the time."

The Bolton News: Cllr Martyn Cox

Richard Silvester, cabinet member for climate change, said the target remained the "aim and ambition".

The council decreased its emissions of greenhouse gases by almost a quarter after it declared a climate emergency – from the equivalent of more than 28,000 tonnes of CO2 five years ago to the equivalent of less than 22,000 tonnes of CO2 last year – and there are significant schemes in the pipeline such as a heat network powered by the sewers underneath the town centre.

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Cllr Silvester said: "I am working to 2030 that's what the aim and ambition is. It was brought in under your administration but I know you were not interested and your administration set us back by years. 

"This administration is working towards it and our officers have been very, very busy on this heat network and a lot of other things. If you are not on board then that's up to you but we are on board with it."

Cllr Silvester attracted criticism from the Conservative Group's Adele Warren, previously a cabinet member for environmental services.

Cllr Silvester's role as the cabinet member for climate change was the creation of the Labour Group when it came to power last year.

Cllr Warren said: "I take it personally when you say our administration set us back by years when it was not the case. We take it seriously and the reason we didn't vote for it was the date of 2030. 

"We were passionate about climate change and passionate about the environment of our town."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.