Shropshire Star

Shropshire Council backs new climate crisis Bill – after two years of asking

Environmental campaigners in Shropshire are celebrating after Shropshire Council publicly announced its backing for a new Bill aiming to address the climate crisis – after two years of asking.

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Shirehall Shrewsbury Shropshire Council

The council has written to county MPs expressing its support for the Climate and Ecology Bill, and campaigners hope this will encourage Shropshire’s elected representatives to back it in Parliament.

The Bill, formerly known as the Climate & Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill, is currently making its way through Parliament and aims to introduce a new law to deal with the full extent of the climate and nature crisis.

Councillor Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council cabinet member for climate, environment and transport, said supporting the Bill illustrated the council’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency.

He said: “Addressing the impact of climate change has been adopted as one of the council’s key operational principles and is being embedded as a normal part of the council’s corporate governance systems.

“Although the council’s own operations account for only around one per cent of Shropshire’s carbon footprint, we’re actively supporting the efforts of Zero Carbon Shropshire and other local climate change organisations to help local businesses and communities to develop a wide range of carbon management projects and initiatives which will help them to reduce their contribution to the carbon footprint of the wider county, as well as ‘leading by example’ by improving our own performance.

“Expressing support for the CEE Bill demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the issue.”

Jamie Russell, a campaigner with Zero Hour Shropshire, said: “It’s fantastic to see Shropshire Council finally getting behind this important Bill. We hope the county’s MPs will take notice.

“People are terrified about the way the UK’s climate is spiralling out of control and about the accelerating loss of UK species, from hedgehogs to turtle doves to fungi.

“We need strong legislation to protect our climate, our wildlife, and our children’s futures before it’s too late.”

The Shropshire campaign began in February 2021, when more than 200 residents wrote to councillors asking them to support a cross-party motion in favour of the Bill.

However at that meeting, councillors expressed concern over some elements of the Bill and voted to have it discussed by a dedicated task and finish group before the authority would publicly declare its support.

The group of councillors agreed that the authority should write to MPs in support of the Bill – other than the inclusion of a ‘citizens’ assembly’ – and the council has now followed through with this promise.

A letter from the council to Dr Russell explained that while the group of councillors “broadly supported the aims of the Bill”, they were “strongly divided” over the issue of a citizens’ assembly, and the council ultimately decided not to support this element of the Bill.

Dr Russell said it was unclear why the council could not support this proposal, but added: “We’re glad the council backs the Bill’s call for tougher climate targets. This Bill is a vital part of the fight to protect Shropshire and the rest of the UK from the climate and nature crisis.”

Over 200 UK councils and 100 MPs have so far expressed their support for the Bill.