Last night (29th September 2020), Somerset West and Taunton Council unanimously declared an ecological emergency, supporting a motion I proposed with Councillor Dixie Darch. See full motion and a webcast of the debate (starts after 1 hr 26 mins 20 secs).
The motion recognised that the human and natural worlds are intertwined. We rely on nature for air, water, food, medicines, raw materials and energy. But we are over-exploiting natural resources, leading to species extinction rates which are now tens to hundreds of times higher than historical averages. As David Attenborough has said: “We’ve overrun the planet”.
The Council should now extend existing good work on nature restoration and prepare an action plan that:
- Seeks to maximise opportunities from addressing both the climate and the ecological emergencies together.
- Embeds climate action and ecological initiatives within all council work areas, including COVID recovery.
- Promotes woodland planting, peatland restoration, natural flood management, rewilding, and habitat creation and restoration.
- Continues efforts to recycle waste and use resources efficiently and do more to save energy and use renewable sources for power.
- Increasingly use the planning system to achieve biodiversity gain and restore habitats.
- Works with many partners as well as encouraging residents wishing to do what they can at home.
The new motion complements the climate emergency declaration for Somerset West and Taunton, which I proposed and was unanimously agreed in February 2019. After delays, a joint Climate Strategy for Somerset and SWT Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Action Plan will be debated soon at Committees and Full Council, starting with Scrutiny Committee on 14th October 2020.