Cllr. Heulwen Hulme
Portfolio Holder for the Environment
Powys County Council
35 Tan Y Llan
13th September 2021
CC: all Powys Members.
RE: Declaration of an Ecological Emergency
Dear Cllr. Hulme,
We are writing to you as members of the community, residents of Powys, and as representatives of several environmental organisations and local groups.
We understand that a motion has been raised, and seconded, for the full county council meeting on 23rd September to make this declaration and we want to show our support for this. In this letter we outline our reasons for this and our concerns with continuing without a separate and equal recognition of the crisis that nature is in, and the impact that this will have on our lives.
We are one year in to the UN’s Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. And we are coming out of a pandemic where many people realised their connection to nature and the importance of spending time in the wild to their wellbeing.
The UN’s most recent IPPC report “Summary for Policy Makers”, launched ahead of COP26, is a “code red for humanity” according to the UN Secretary. Alok Sharma COP26 President acknowledges that the next decade will be “decisive” as the UK Government prepares plans to reach net zero by 2050.
We have been shown by the Dasgupta Report that “nature is a blind spot” in economics but that we can no longer afford for it to be absent from national finance accounting systems or by economic and political decision makers. Investing just 0.1% of global GDP across the world would go a long way to restoring nature and building a green economy.
The UK hosts COP26 in November, where our politicians will make pledges to become global leaders in reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change.
In October, China will host the delayed COP15, or more correctly the Convention on Biological Diversity, billed as the biggest biodiversity conference in a decade. At this conference world leaders will pledge to restore nature and work to a target of managing 30% of the land and 30% of the sea for nature by 2030. Currently around 5% of the land in the UK is in good condition for nature.
We need these changes here in Wales. To make them we need a much better recognition and understanding of just how important nature is to our future lives and the longer-term prosperity of our communities. We need to move from minimal box-ticking to a genuine determination to put biodiversity at the centre of decision-making and action by authorities and administrators at every level.
On June 30th, 2021, the Welsh Government declared a nature emergency in what has been described as a landmark moment. The Senedd is one of the first parliaments in the world to declare such an emergency.
We are currently facing a climate and nature emergency, with 17% of species in Wales at risk of extinction.
We need a declaration at a local level, to cover the local decisions and to put nature’s recovery at the heart of all decision making across Powys.
We are pleased that Powys County Council declared a Climate Emergency in September 2019 and subsequently appointed a Climate Change Officer.
But tackling climate change in isolation by focussing primarily on reducing carbon will not adequately address the restoration of nature. We risk significant impacts on the way we use land, many of which may cause harm to local people and the local economy. The climate and ecological emergency are intertwined and the solutions to a sustainable and prosperous future lies in tackling both equally.
We would like to request and offer support for:
- Powys County Council to declare an ecological emergency as a stand-alone declaration.
- We request that you in your role as a councillor you support this motion when it comes to cabinet for vote.
Once this vote is passed, we ask that you raise and seek support for the following motion, which will need to be fully costed and budgeted for:
- Powys County Council appoint a Nature Recovery officer as a permanent position to support the delivery of nature’s recovery and to support the ongoing work of the Powys Nature Partnership.
- A budget is allocated to nature’s restoration and a specific action plan is drawn up to map the route to recovery, detailing milestones and targets.
Wording for the declaration might be:
An Ecological Emergency has been declared by the council in response to the ongoing threat to wildlife and ecosystems. The declaration recognises the essential role nature plays in society and the economy and provides a statement of intent to protect wildlife and habitats, enabling current and future generations to benefit from a green, nature rich environment.
We have seen other County Councils do this and to great effect. Herefordshire Council is the most recent to declare an ecological emergency.
We all contribute to the recently revived Powys Nature Partnership. This forum is hugely valuable, a place to shape the Nature Recovery Action Plan, but also a forum to share ideas and opportunities for nature and communities. We welcome the work the Powys County Council have done to make this happen and highlight how important the appointment of a specific staff member is to tackling the restoration of nature across Powys.
We look forward to hearing from you.
James Hitchcock, Chief Executive Officer, Radnorshire Wildlife Trust
Jeremy Thorp, Chairman, Powys Action on the Climate Emergency
Simon Cope MCIEEM, Chairman, Montgomeryshire Bat Group
Clive Faulkner, Chief Executive Officer, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust
Sarah Kessell, Chief Executive Officer, The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales
Helen Stace, Chief Executive Officer, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust
Pam Knight, Secretary on behalf of the Ryader by Nature committee
Laura Shewring, Treescape Lead Wales ‑ Dyfi to Dwyryd, Woodland Trust
Richard Grindle, Chief Executive Officer, Shropshire Wildlife Trust
John J Bimson, Chair, Zero Carbon Llanidloes.
Liz Price, Head of Land Use Wales, Wye & Usk Foundation
Richard Greatex, Secretary, Friends of the Upper Wye
Jonathan Colchester, Chair of Brecon & Radnor Branch, CPRW