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Nature Emergency

Motion or resolution considered by Powys County Council

This motion was heard on 13/10/2022. It was proposed by Adam Kennerley and seconded by Angela Davies .

Motion as voted upon

For the purposes of this motion ‘nature’ shall mean all living organisms and the ecological complexes (including non-living elements (such as air, water, soil) and processes) of which they are part. It includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems; the resilience of ecosystems; the services they provide to society and the way in which humans interact with nature.

Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta’s review into The Economics of Biodiversity, commissioned by Her Majesty’s Treasury in 2019 and updated just last year, highlighted that humanity does not exist in isolation from nature but sits within it. Nature is an asset on which all aspects of our society depend and with biodiversity declining faster than at any time in human history, we are undermining the productivity, resilience and adaptability that nature lends our society. In a county like Powys our nature loss is undermining the productivity, resilience and adaptability of our agricultural and forestry sectors alongside the inter-dependent tourism industry. Put simply, Powys depends on nature.

We are in the middle of a nature crisis. Almost half of all UK wildlife is in long term decline and 15% of species are at risk of extinction. The climate emergency is only hastening this destruction of the natural environment, damaging habitats and disrupting ecosystems. Yet it is these very habitats that have the potential to lock up carbon and fight back against rising global temperatures. It is essential that we not only protect these spaces but let them thrive – for the benefit of people, planet and nature. As we recover from the COVID-19 crisis, the need for nature-rich green spaces where we live and work is clearer than ever and will help health, education and the economy build back stronger.

We recognise that action must be taken now to remedy this and to put nature into recovery at a local level, in support of regional, national and international work to do the same.

Section 6 under Part 1 of the Environment (Wales) Act introduced an enhanced duty (the S6 duty) for public authorities. The S6 duty requires that public authorities must seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity so far as consistent with the proper exercise of their functions and in so doing promote the resilience of ecosystems.

Powys County Council has already done much including appointing a Biodiversity Officer under the Local Places for Nature funding from Welsh Government and whose principal duty is to distribute grants in support of nature to groups in Powys. Within its own services the Council is undertaking projects such as managing roadside verges for nature by changing their management regimes to cut and collect.

The Biodiversity Officer post – externally funded – lends some support to the current Local Nature Partnership in Powys, a forum that brings together a number of organisations interested in nature recovery and has recently published a Nature Recovery Action Plan for Powys.

The Council has already submitted a proposal to the Shared Prosperity Fund to seek external funding for an additional post for the period from 2022 – March 2025. This would effectively be a Nature Recovery Officer, to carry out wider biodiversity work, particularly oversight and reporting for Section 6 duties, engagement with Council services and communities and identifying projects for funding applications that sit outside Local Places for Nature.

Many people respect Sir David Attenborough who has said:

“Our planet may be home to 30 million different kinds of animals and plants. Each individual locked in its own life-long fight for survival. Everywhere you look, on land or in the ocean, there are extraordinary examples of the lengths living things go to to stay alive.

Ever since we [humans] arrived on this planet as a species, we’ve cut them down, dug them up, burnt them, and poisoned them. Today we’re doing so on a greater scale than ever.”

Or if you prefer Jeremy Clarkson:

“Forget climate change, if insects disappear so does all life on this Planet”.

The Council notes that:

1) Nature provides the life support systems enabling all organisms, including humans, to survive and to thrive.

2) Nature is essential to our economic, social, environmental, and cultural well-being. Nature provides us with a range of ecosystem services such as insects pollinating our food crops, wetlands purifying water and preventing flooding, peatlands storing carbon and woodlands purifying the air we breathe. Nature provides us with products that support our economies, for example, the means for food production, wood for building and fuel and providing the backdrop to our tourism industry.

3) Nature loss is well documents and reported:

a) Nature is declining at an unprecedented rate. The IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) Global Assessment of Biodiversity, the UN Global Biodiversity Outlook and the WWF’s Living Planet Report show that levels of biodiversity across continents are plummeting with no sign of stopping, around one million animal and plant species across the globe are threatened with extinction.

b) The 2019 State of Nature Report from the UK JNCC (Joint Nature Conservancy Council) report estimated that 1 in 6 of Wales' species are at risk of extinction and that over the past 50 years 73 species have already become extinct with a further 666 under threat of extinction.

c) The 2020 State of our Natural Resources Report from Natural Resources Wales also shows that Wales’ species and habitats are in serious decline and the resilience of our ecosystems is in decline too.

4) There is no single cause of nature loss. Contributory factors are many, individually complex and often interacting with each other, but they include:

a) Climate change.

b) Intensification of land management - driven by wider economics - on both our farmed and forested land.

c) Development pressures.

d) Pollution.

e) Hydrological change.

5) In 2021 the Senedd declared a nature emergency, one of the first parliaments in the world to declare such an emergency. This requires Welsh Government to introduce a legally binding requirement to reverse biodiversity loss through statutory targets.

The Council believes that:

1) That nature is fundamentally important to the people and prosperity of Powys. One small but high profile ‘marker’ of this is our very own use of the red kite in the Council’s logo. The red kite is also an example of a recovery success now urgently needed by so many species and habitats in Powys.

2) The ongoing decline in nature will impact directly on the residents, communities and businesses of Powys across many areas including the viability of our rural economies and the livelihoods they support, the provision of affordable food to our residents, the ability to manage flooding and the well-being of our communities to name just a few.

3) Despite the threats to nature there are many reasons to be hopeful:

a) The Welsh legislative and policy structure and action planning directly considers the natural environment, including the way we manage it, and its links to our health and well-being. Specifically:

i) The Environment (Wales) Act (2016) places an enhanced duty on all public bodies to seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity 9THE section 6 duty).

ii) The Wellbeing of Future generations (Wales) Act (2015) states that all public bodies must maximise their contribution to all the wellbeing goals.

iii) Wales being the first country to introduce the UN sustainable development goals into national policy and, as all sustainability goals are intertwined, this helps to put us in a position to create an environment for nature to thrive.

b) A Nature Recovery Action Plan for Wales now with a Powys focussed and recently published equivalent in the form of the Powys Nature Recovery Action Plan, the aim of which is to halt and reverse the declines in biodiversity across Powys.

c) The public – in no small part thanks to the work of David Attenborough – has a growing awareness and understanding both of the importance of nature and of the threats it is under. With this comes an increasing appetite to act directly and to support the action of others.

4) Here within Powys, we have substantial resources that can help us stem and reverse the loss of nature. It begins with talented and experienced land managers in our farming and forestry industries, an environmental NGO sector (specifically our Wildlife Trusts which the Welsh Government have recognised as playing a pivotal role in delivering a nature recovery), a higher education system with the infrastructure to support skills development, a local nature partnership and plan for action in the newly published Powys Nature Recovery Action Plan and a public that is increasingly supporting action to preserve nature.

The Council resolves to:

1) Declare a Nature Emergency as demonstration of the Council’s commitment to protecting and rejuvenating Powys’ natural environment for its inherent value, for the role nature plays in achieving a vibrant and viable economy and for the benefits nature provides to the wellbeing of our county’s residents.

2) Establish meaningful supportive structures that embed nature in decision making including:

a) Establish a cross-party Nature Emergency Working Group within the Council to help embed biodiversity in Council decision making, it’s engagement in partnerships and its ambitions for county-wide nature recovery.

b) Appointment of a Council Member as a champion for nature as allowed for by this Council’s constitution.

c) Actively seek to secure the funding from external new resources for a dedicated and permanent Nature Recovery Officer, between them to help drive nature recovery within the Council and to animate action amongst stakeholders, seeking new external funds to help enable the delivery of nature recovery.

d) Reaffirm the Council’s support for the Local Nature Partnership and to actively encourage and enable its development as an independent stakeholder group to represent those who manage nature alongside those who use and / or benefit from nature.

3) Take meaningful action to help achieve a net increase in nature county-wide including:

a) To draw up a response – outlining the Council’s role – to the recently published Powys Nature Recovery Plan produced by Powys Local Nature Partnership and which sets out actions needed to protect and conserve existing systems and to restore nature at a scale and pace commensurate with the threats it faces.

b) To show meaningful leadership by reviewing how the Council’s assets and services can be more fully harnessed for reversing our county’s loss of nature. An immediate priority to be the County Farm Estates. To then extend this as resources allow to review all services the Council provides such as Planning (exploring opportunities afforded by the review of the LDP to implement the motion for example), Procurement (a lot of nature’s recovery can be aided by what and how we consume for example), Highways (further adoption of roadside verges as nature reserves), Education Services (skills development, school grounds), Countryside (parks management for example) etc.

For - 36
Against - 16
Abstained - 5

Result: Passed
Vote Requirement: Simple Majority

  Voting Record

Below is the individual voting record for all councillors on this motion/resolution.

Name Ward Party Vote
Baynham, Beverley Presteigne  Independent Group For
Bebb, Danny Churchstoke  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Abstained
Beecham, Matt Crickhowell with Cwmdu and Tretower  Resigned Did not vote
Beecham, Sarah-Jane Crickhowell with Cwmdu and Tretower  Resigned For
Berriman, Jake Llandrindod North  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Breeze, Ben Kerry  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
Breeze, Graham Welshpool Llanerchyddol  Independent Group Against
Brighouse, Little Disserth and Trecoed with Newbridge  Non-Affiliated For
Brignell-Thorp, Jeremy Forden and Montgomery  Non-Affiliated For
Cartwright, Anita Talybont-on-Usk  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Charlton, Jackie Llangattock and Llangynidr  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Church, Richard Welshpool Castle  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Did not vote
Colbert, Tom Bronllys and Felin-fach  Non-Affiliated For
Cox, Sian Llangors with Bwlch  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Davies, Aled Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and Llansilin  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
Davies, Angela Rhayader  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Davies, Bryan Llanafanfawr with Garth  Independents for Powys Group Abstained
Davies, Bryn Banwy, Llanfihangel and Llanwddyn  Plaid Cymru Group For
Davies, Sandra Cwm-twrch  Welsh Labour Group For
Dorrance, Matthew Brecon West  Welsh Labour Group For
Edwards, Deb Llangunllo with Norton  Non-Affiliated Abstained
Ewing, Josie Llandrindod South  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Did not vote
George, Les Caersws  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
Gibson-Watt, James Glasbury  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Harrison, Ian Guilsfield  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
Healy, Kelly Newtown Central and South  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Did not vote
Hulme, Heulwen Rhiwcynon  Independent Group Abstained
James, Peter Llanwrtyd Wells  Independent Group For
Jenner, Amanda Trelystan and Trewern  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
Johnson-Wood, Claire Llanyre with Nantmel  Independents for Powys Group Did not vote
Jones, Adrian Berriew and Castle Caereinion  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
Jones, Arwel Llandysilio  Independent Group Did not vote
Jones, Ed Old Radnor  Independents for Powys Group Against
Jones, Gareth D Llanfair Caereinion and Llanerfyl  Independent Group Abstained
Jones, Gareth E Llanelwedd  Independents for Powys Group For
Jones, Joy Newtown East  Non-Affiliated Did not vote
Kennerley, Adam Newtown North  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Kenyon-Wade, Corinna Knighton with Beguildy  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Lewington, Pete Newtown West  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
Lewis, Karl Llandinam with Dolfor  Welsh Conservatives Group For
Lewis, Peter Llanfyllin  Welsh Conservatives Group Did not vote
Lloyd, William Gwernyfed  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
McIntosh, Iain Yscir with Honddu Isaf and Llanddew  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
McNicholas, Susan Ynyscedwyn  Welsh Labour Group For
Meredith, David Brecon West  Welsh Labour Group For
Mitchell, Gary Llanbrynmair  Plaid Cymru Group For
Morgan, Gareth Llanidloes  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Did not vote
Morgan, Geoff Ithon Valley  Non-Affiliated Against
Powell, William Talgarth  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Preston, Glyn Llanidloes  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Pugh, Gareth Dolforwyn  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
Pugh, Jeremy Builth  Independents for Powys Group Did not vote
Ratcliffe, Gareth Hay  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Rijnenberg, Liz Brecon East  Welsh Labour Group For
Roberts, Lucy Llandrinio  Welsh Conservatives Group For
Roberts, Pete Llandrindod South  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Robinson, Carol Welshpool Gungrog  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Did not vote
Roderick, Edwin Maescar and Llywel  Independent Group Against
Selby, David Newtown Central and South  Welsh Liberal Democrat Group For
Thomas, David Tawe Uchaf  Welsh Labour Group For
Thomas, Gwynfor Llansantffraid  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
Vaughan, Elwyn Glantwymyn  Plaid Cymru Group For
Walsh, Chris Brecon East  Welsh Labour Group For
Wilkinson, Jonathan Llangyniew and Meifod  Welsh Conservatives Group Against
Williams, Ange Knighton with Beguildy  Independents for Powys Group Against
Williams, Huw Aber-craf and Ystradgynlais  Welsh Labour Group For
Williams, Michael Machynlleth  Independent Group For
Williams, Sarah Aber-craf and Ystradgynlais  Welsh Labour Group For

Source: Voting Record