Somerset County Council today voted to put additional focus into protecting Somerset’s natural environment and biodiversity by declaring an Ecological Emergency.
At today’s Full Council meeting (Wednesday, 20 July) at County Hall, members backed a motion put forward to declare an Ecological Emergency proposed by Executive Lead Member for the Environment and Climate Change Cllr Sarah Dyke.
The Council previously declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and has since worked with Somerset’s four District Councils and other partners to develop the Somerset Climate Emergency Strategy “Towards a climate resilient Somerset”.
Somerset County Council has been ranked by Climate Emergency UK as the top County Council in the country when it comes to taking a lead on climate change, and wants to push even further in its work to ensure Somerset is climate resilient and carbon neutral by 2030.
The Ecological Emergency work will complement the existing Climate Emergency ‘Natural Environment’ actions with a renewed focus on land management, biodiversity, and natural habitats.
Going forward, SCC will take a lead role in the delivery of the Local Nature Recovery Strategy, working with the Local Nature Partnership to deliver a clear set of actions to bring about a reversal of the negative impacts on the natural environment caused by human overexploitation of land and natural habitats and the impacts of climate change, developing strategies to mitigate against the possibility of further decline or damage to the habitats, flora and fauna of Somerset.
Cllr Sarah Dyke, Somerset County Council Executive Lead Member for the Environment and Climate Change, said: “As a Council we are putting sustainability at the forefront of all our decision-making. By declaring an Ecological Emergency, we are pledging to preserve the County’s natural environment and tackling negative impacts on biodiversity in Somerset.
“This action will not only help us protect and sustain our precious flora and fauna, but can also deliver economic benefits by way of new jobs, economic savings, market and green tourism opportunities and contribute significantly to the improved health and well-being of our communities.”
As part of the Ecological Emergency work, Somerset County Council is committing to working with the District Councils to review planning policy to ensure biodiversity is improved, environments enriched, and the destruction of habitats is resisted when development occurs.
The Council will also be working to become a pesticide-free and peat-free council, and will be encouraging residents, businesses and landowners to follow suit to reduce pesticide use and eliminate peat use.
To keep up to date with latest information about tackling the climate emergency in Somerset, visit Climate Emergency.