24
Sep 21

Glastonbury Declares Ecological Emergency

Global climate strike photo copyright © Garry Knight CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication

Glastonbury and Street Green Party is delighted to report that Glastonbury declared an Ecological Emergency at the September meeting of Glastonbury Town Council.

The Ecological Emergency Declaration Motion – proposed by Green Cllr. Serena Roney-Dougal and seconded by Glastonbury’s Green Mayor, Cllr. Jon Cousins – received cross-party support and was passed unanimously.  It reads:

This Council resolves to declare an Ecological Emergency – recognising that the planet is experiencing an Ecological as well as a Climate Emergency – and will take this into account in any decisions made.

Glastonbury Councillors vote in favour of the Ecological Emergency Declaration Motion.

Background Information for the Motion:

In addition to:

  1. adopting our ‘Glastonbury Charter for the Environment’ in April 2012,
  2. becoming a ‘Frack Free Council’ in February 2013,
  3. banning the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides on all council owned land and public spaces in August 2015,
  4. committing to be ‘single use plastic free’ in November 2017,
  5. declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ in February 2019 – pledging to make our operation carbon neutral by 2030 – and
  6. becoming the second ‘Earth Protector Town’ in the world in September 2019 – calling for Ecocide to be recognised as an ‘atrocity crime’ at the International Criminal Court.

This Council acknowledges that:

  • Our societies and economies are intimately linked with and depend on biodiversity and nature. The natural world is essential for the provision of nutritious food (with soil and pollinators having a vital role), clean water, clean air, medicines, protection from extreme weather, as well as being our source of energy and raw materials.
  • The recent outbreaks of Ebola Virus Disease in the Republic of Guinea and Democratic Republic of the Congo have highlighted the relationship between people and nature. When we destroy and degrade habitats, we increase the risk of disease spill-over from wildlife to people.
  • The State of Nature 2019 report highlighted the critical decline in biodiversity in the UK. Changes in farming practices have had the biggest effect in recent decades and the impact of climate change is now increasing. 15% of UK species are classified as threatened with extinction and 2% are already extinct.
  • The State of the World’s Plants and Fungi 2020 report from Royal Botanic Gardens Kew estimated that 39.4% of plants are now threatened with extinction. This is a jump from one in five plants thought to be at risk in Kew’s 2016 report.
  • The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs’ Environment Bill will require the introduction of a Local Nature Recovery Strategy and Nature Recovery Networks.
  • Actions to restore nature and biodiversity, as well as being vital for their own sake, often have an important co-benefit of storing carbon, so help address climate change.
  • People’s access to ‘green spaces’ to understand and appreciate biodiversity and a rich, natural world, private or public, is unequal.

To support this declaration, this Council will:

  1. Rename the ‘Climate Emergency Advisory Committee’ to the ‘Climate and Ecological Emergencies Advisory Committee’, to support councillors and council officers address these twin emergencies.
  2. Add ecological impact implications alongside those for climate and sustainability in committee and council reports.
  3. Ensure that addressing the climate and ecological emergencies and nature recovery are considered as strategic priorities – identifying appropriate areas for habitat restoration and biodiversity net gain, and ensuring that any potential development limits impact on existing habitats, whilst also working on the principle of increasing equality of access for people to natural, green spaces – for example: i) improving biodiversity by encouraging the rewilding of the natural flood plain areas of the Levels and Moors, ii) supporting the competent determination of planning applications by the Local Planning Authority and encouraging Habitats Regulations Assessments to reduce the high levels of phosphates in the Somerset Levels and Moors (designated as a Special Protection Area under the Habitat Regulations 2017 and listed as a Ramsar Site under the Ramsar Convention).
  4. In keeping with the urgency of this declaration, work with other councils to support the development of ‘Nature Recovery Networks’ and a ‘Nature Recovery Strategy’ for Somerset, as and when required by The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs.
  5. Look for opportunities to work in partnership with other councils, local charities, and environmental organisations to deliver nature recovery in Somerset, and support local land management practices that protect and restore the natural world.
  6. Support the development of a county-wide ‘Tree Planting Policy and Strategy’ to support nature protection and recovery and carbon sequestration.
  7. Ensure the Council’s Property and Assets Committee considers opportunities for biodiversity enhancements and tree planting on Council landholdings, and formalising purchasing policies that are consistent with this declaration.
  8. Write to all Somerset’s MPs urging them to support the Climate and Ecological Bill, a private member’s bill, in keeping with the declarations of this Council.
  9. Listen to members of the community who report concerns or ideas relating to these issues.
    Have an ongoing approach to learn from best practice, as well as mistakes, and to share the ‘lessons learnt’.