Powys County Council vote against declaring an ecological emergency

Powys County Council vote against declaring an ecological emergency

Credit: Penny Dixie

Radnorshire Wildlife Trust and Wildlife Trusts Wales are writing to Powys County Council, Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner and Julie James, Climate Change Minister, to express our concern over the recent vote by the County Councillors of Powys County Council (PCC) not to declare an ecological emergency at their meeting on September 23rd 2021.

Dr Caroline Tuner and Cllr Heulwen Hulme

Powys County Hall
Spa Road East
Llandrindod Wells
Powys
LD1 5LG

November 2nd 2021

 

Re – PCC voting against declaring an ecological emergency

CC - Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner, and Julie James MS, Climate Change Minister

 

Dear Dr Caroline Tuner and Cllr Heulwen Hulme,

 

Radnorshire Wildlife Trust and Wildlife Trusts Wales are writing to you to express our concern over the recent vote by the County Councillors of Powys County Council (PCC) not to declare an ecological emergency at their meeting on September 23rd 2021. 

 

As you will be aware, Wales is facing both a climate and nature crisis, with 17% of species in Wales at risk of extinction and 30% found in fewer places. But we can change this by putting nature into recovery, which will also play a pivotal role in helping Wales tackle the climate crisis through restoring habitats. This can then have the potential to lock up vast amounts of carbon while providing other vital benefits for Powys residents, such as flood alleviation, clean water and improved health and wellbeing.

 

In recognition of this, on  June 30th, 2021, the Welsh Government declared a nature emergency and was one of the first parliaments in the world to declare such an emergency. This is widely considered to be a landmark moment and another example of how Wales is willing to take bold steps and make big commitments for the environment and sustainability. The declaration of an ecological emergency would be a key signal of positive intent and a desire of PCC to create a sustainable future for its residents. 

 

However, your decisions highlights the policy gap between national and local commitments that seems to be growing. This decision is also contrary to The Towards 2040 – Wellbeing in Powys Plan, which sets a vision that the: People in Powys will enjoy a sustainable and productive environment.  How will this be possible if nature is in decline, underfunded and unattended?   

 

Unless we take action to halt nature’s decline and give nature’s recovery the same weighting as the climate crisis, we face catastrophic impacts on how we live and work, the economy, and wellbeing and prosperity for future generations. 

 

The comments made by Councillors, in particular, that there is “insufficient evidence” to support the motion and that this seems to have become a discussion about concerns of the future of farming are deeply worrying.  Farming and how the land is used does have a huge impact on the health of nature. Whilst we celebrate the increase in nature-friendly farming, not all land use is positive for nature. This can be seen through the cataphoric pollution of the River Wye. This is largely due to the significant phosphate levels caused by intensive poultry farming. This is just one area where more could and should be done to address the nature crisis in Powys and where PCC has a significant role in resolving issues causing natures decline.

 

Powys is Wales’s largest unitary authority; this and its geography means that it can play a significant role in nature’s recovery in Wales.  The Wildlife Trusts welcome that for the first time in many years’ PCC has an ecologist, a Biodiversity Officer and a Climate Change Officer.  However, we are concerned that neither of the latter two posts are permanent and only have funding secured for a few more months. Therefore, we continue to be concerned about how PCC can deliver its statutory requirements on nature, climate and the environment. PPC, as a public body, have a statutory duty to deliver national policy and has a moral and ethical duty to lead the way for its citizens. 

 

The Wildlife Trusts, therefore, ask that PPC:

  1. Reconsiders its position on the ecological emergency and acts to declare a standalone nature crisis so that natures recovery can be adequately recognised and resourced.
  2. Recognises its role as a leader of change and enables farmers to play an active role in natures recovery
  3. Recognises the role Powys has to increase awareness of nature-based solutions and how this will help Powys and Wales adapt to climate change

 

The Wildlife Trusts would welcome an opportunity to meet with you or present to the PCC Council to discuss this issue. We can also provide Councillors with significant global, national and local evidence that clearly shows the decline in nature and the urgent need to act.

 

Yours sincerely,

Rachel Sharp                                                     James Hitchcock

Director                                                               CEO

Wildlife Trust Wales                                            Radnorshire Wildlife Trust

 

                                                                          

 

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CREDIT: Penny Dixie

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