Shropshire Star

Should Nature Emergency Declaration been allowed for debate?

A majority of councillors have voted in favour of a motion that Powys Council declares a “Nature Emergency.”

Conservative Councillor Iain McIntosh

But, as the motion was not accompanied by a full cost analysis of implementation, should it have been debated at all?

The motion by Liberal Democrat Councillor Adam Kennerley, was brought forward at a meeting of the council on Thursday, October 13.

Cllr Kennerley who is a professional ecologist, said: “The motion proposes what assets and opportunities we as a council can use to showcase good practice and work with others across the county.”

Councillor Angela Davies who seconded the motion pointed out that the UK State of Nature report “half of all birds and a quarter of all mammals” are at risk of extinction.

“Powys is one third the land mass of Wales we are surrounded by countryside and can be forgiven that all is well, but it’s not,” said Cllr Davies.

The motion included asking for biodiversity post to be created – which would be paid by external funding.

Conservative Councillor Iain McIntosh said: “We all acknowledge the threat of climate change and the need to address this by achieving carbon net zero by 2030.

“We’ve already done that by declaring a Climate Change Emergency in September 2020- and the council is well on the way to achieve that by making the necessary plans.

“I’m going to struggle to support this motion – all notices of motion should be accompanied by a fully costed analysis of financial and resources implications.

“It says this will require additional resource without saying how much, so I’m surprised it’s been allowed to be presented to us in this form.

“We are not able to come to a decision based on what it’s going to cost the council.”

Cllr McIntosh recommended that the motion is withdrawn until it is fully costed.

Council chairman Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe put the suggestion to the withdraw proposals to Cllr Kennerley who said that the debate should “carry on.”

The Green Party’s Councillor Jeremy Brignell-Thorp said that he “fully supported the motion,” and went on to quote several other international reports predicting the extinction of species.

“Our Welsh Government led the way by declaring a Nature Emergency – I hope Powys can follow suite, said Cllr Brignell-Thorp.

Tory group leader, Councillor Aled Davies, said that there was not enough “information in the motion” to understand the consequences of adopting it.

“I don’t understand the impact this will have when we’re trying to grow the economy in Mid-Wales,” said Cllr Davies.

Councillor Karl Lewis said: “I’m worried how it will feed into the LDP (Local Development Plan) especially for farm diversification, I think it could be the thin end of the wedge to curtail livestock farming in Powys.”

Council leader Councillor James Gibson-Watt said: “One of the jobs of this authority is to show leadership to our residents and if we declare a Nature Emergency then I think we are doing the right thing.”

The debate went to a vote and was approved by 36 votes for 16 against and five abstentions.

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