Sunday, 01 August 2021

Council set to declare ecological emergency

Council set to declare ecological emergency

AN ecological emergency is set to be declared by Henley Town Council.

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak is to put a motion to the planning committee on July 13 which, if it is approved, will be considered by the full council on July 27.

The final wording is yet to be decided but will ask the council to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill and write to Henley MP John Howell asking him to vote for it.

The council declared a climate emergency last year in order to find ways to reduce Henley’s carbon footprint.

Declaring an ecological emergency would mean means all future decisions on matters of planning and development would have to take the impact on habitats and biodiversity into account.

South Oxfordshire District Council declared an ecological emergency in February.

The CEE Bill would provide a framework to help the UK to reduce its emissions and ecological footprint, both at home and internationally. It would also require the UK to have strict targets on CO2 emissions and ensure there is protection for biodiversity and wildlife habitats.

Cllr Gawrysiak said: “If you just reduce the global warming temperature but don’t think about habitats, then you are only doing half a job.

“The Bill adds the loss of habitats and the loss of biodiversity. It also talks about the impact on food production and potential water shortages going forward, so it is a little bit broader.

“We want new-builds to include hedges to increase the habitats and spaces for biodiversity.”

The council’s climate committee was formed in 2019 and has championed several schemes, including solar panels, tree planting and the installation of electronic vehicle charging points.

Patrick Fleming, a member of the climate emergency working group and Greener Henley, said: “All the actions we have taken have been aimed at reducing the amount of CO2 we generate but what has become increasingly obvious is that there is another emergency happening — what is happening to wildlife and entire habitats and in particular due to the pressure from humans and through development.

“The elements of the CEE Bill bring those two things together and rather than just addressing the climate emergency by itself, it directly influences the impact on wildlife.”

Mr Howell has said he won’t vote for the Bill as he believes it is flawed.

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