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Please help to call on Basingstoke Council to declare an ecological emergency!

There’s a motion to declare an ecological emergency being submitted to the next council meeting on 14th October – please write or email your local councillor as soon as possible urging them to support the motion!

This is urgently needed because our landscape and bio-diversity is under huge threat, not just from the changing climate but from huge unchecked developments. The State of Nature Report 2019 highlighted the critical decline in biodiversity in the UK. 15% of UK species are classified as threatened with extinction and 2% are already extinct. We need to protect the natural environment in which we live and it is vital our Council considers the impact on our environment in all its decisions.

Our natural world is essential for the provision of food (with soil and pollinators having a vital role), clean water, fresh air, medicines, and protection from extreme weather, as well as being our source of energy and raw materials. We all derive a sense of wellbeing from a healthy natural environment.

Thanks to strong lobbying from BTN we have persuaded a cross party group of local councillors to submit a ecological emergency motion to the next council meeting on 14th October. But its acceptance is by no means guaranteed. Many local councillors will vote against the motion unless we, the voters, tell them otherwise.

We need your help – please write or email your local councillor as soon as possible urging them to support the motion! Even better attend the meeting and make your views known!

This is the text of the motion:

Motion to Declare an Ecological Emergency

Council Notes:

1. The recent Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity confirms that our societies and economies are embedded within nature and are not external to it.

2. Humanity and the economy depend on the services that nature provides. For example, the natural world is essential for the provision of food (with soil and pollinators having a vital role), clean water, fresh air, medicines, and protection from extreme weather, as well as being our source of energy and raw materials. People also derive a sense of wellbeing from a healthy natural environment.

3. Yet the State of Nature 2019 highlighted the critical decline in biodiversity in the UK. 15% of UK species are classified as threatened with extinction and 2% are already extinct.

4. The Environment Bill will require the introduction of a Local Nature Recovery Strategy and Nature Recovery Networks as an aid to planning.

5. Councils of all colours are already declaring an ecological or biodiversity emergency or acting accordingly. These include: Bath & North East Somerset; Bournemouth; Brent; Brighton & Hove; Cambridgeshire; Ealing; Winchester; and Windsor & Maidenhead.

REFERNCES

The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review –  Headline Messages, Abridged Version, Full Report & Government Response
State of Nature 2019 – https://nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019/
https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report.pdf

Council resolves to:

1. Declare an Ecological Emergency.

2. Maximise co-benefits from addressing Climate and Ecological Emergencies.

3. Add ecological implications alongside those for climate and sustainability in Committee and Council reports, and embed ecological initiatives within all council work areas, including COVID recovery projects and programmes.

4. Work with local communities, county, regional and national partners to promote landscape and habitat protection, restoration, expansion and connectivity, while devolving greater responsibility to genuinely-empowered community groups.

5. Work with stakeholders to provide everyone, and especially children, with opportunities for learning about and reconnecting with nature.

6. Ensure the Ecological (and Climate) Emergencies are strategic priorities for land use planning, planning policies and design guides, and protecting areas for habitat restoration and biodiversity gain. Seek to incorporate biodiversity, nature recovery networks, green and blue infrastructure and ecosystems services into the Local Plan, Neighbourhood Plans and other initiatives.

7. Create a register of natural assets and estimate the ecosystem services derived from those assets.

8. Provide funding to allow for the creation of an Ecological Emergency action plan and annual progress report, which is then reported and scrutinised by Full Council and any relevant Committees.

South West Basingstoke – Why Restoring Nature Means Planning Differently

Basingstoke must do much more to put nature recovery, biodiversity, accessible green spaces and a healthy environment at the heart of the planning process.

The recently published Vision for South West Basingstoke does not conform to national planning policy for protecting and restoring biodiversity and deserves root and branch revision. The issues raised are not just important for south west Basingstoke but the whole Borough, concerning as it does Borough-wide Local Plan policies and decisions about sustainable development and land use.

Council continues to hand landowners and developers the power to choose where development should be located, how much land should be developed and what it is used for. That should no longer be tolerated.  Council should shape policy and own decisions on behalf of residents, protecting land that can contribute to plans for natural green infrastructure and other environmental services instead of approving developments that are in conflict. 

Basingstoke is located in the Hampshire Downs, a landscape shared with the North Wessex AONB to the north and the South Downs National Park to the south. Natural England has stated that “bridging the gap makes sense from a landscape and ecological perspective”.  There is an opportunity to create an important corridor in a gap to the west of Basingstoke and at the same time enable wildlife to avoid crossing the A30, and M3 between Junction 7 and 8. 

Despite national planning policy there is no partnership working, no properly functioning Local Nature Partnership, and no credible nature network map for south west Basingstoke to which local communities are able to contribute. Our countryside and wildlife has been fragmented and devastated by a focus on development, intensive farming and the road network.  Corridors are to be measured in tens of metres when hundreds of metres or even kilometres are more viable. Reducing fragmentation by joining and expanding Priority Habitats for wildlife abundance and mobility should be at the heart of planning to achieve lasting change.

It is 14 years since the NERC Act of 2006, 10 years since Making Space for Nature and 8 years after the planning system was remodelled by the National Planning Policy Framework.  Council must fulfil its planning and delivery responsibilities with a policy framework and partnerships that will halt losses, restore biodiversity and deliver a much healthier environment for all life.

Holistic planning is urgently required; for nature, climate change and community and for genuinely sustainable development.  We need a better Vision, with adherence to relevant policies, more science, expertise and partnership working, more decisions in favour of the environment and ambition for restoring biodiversity as well as dealing with climate change.  

Paul Beevers

Basingstoke Transition Network

At Basingstoke Transition Network (BTN) we believe we can work together to find ways to reduce our carbon emissions and develop sustainable lifestyles while building a resilient and flourishing local community. We also wish to protect the natural environment and promote improved bio-diversity and nature conservation within the borough. 

BTN is part of the Transition Network. Transition is a movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world.

  • Find out more information about BTN in the About Us section.
  • Learn more about the Network on the Transition Network page.
  • Join us at our monthly meetings via Zoom at 7pm on the first Tuesday of each month.