Stroud District Council is to introduce a raft of new measures to protect nature and biodiversity, thanks to a Green Party motion that aims to make the district and the wider county a better place for wildlife, as well as a greener and healthier place for residents.
The motion, unanimously approved at the full council meeting on Thursday [July 20], was proposed by environment committee chair Cllr Chloe Turner (Green) and seconded by deputy chair Cllr Robin Drury-Layfield (Community Independent).
It calls for biodiversity guidelines for developers, increased biodiversity on council-owned land, exploratory work on the introduction of unenclosed beavers to Gloucestershire, the promotion and delivery of the ‘Wilder Frome’ project, improvements to air pollution monitoring, further reductions in pesticide use and litter, and better all-round environmental standards.
These measures will be undertaken in partnership with a range of organisations, including Climate Leadership Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, the Severn Vale Catchment Partnership, Pesticide Action Network UK and other councils.
In addition, the council will ask water companies what they are doing to stop sewage discharges into local rivers and how much they are investing in infrastructure improvements. It will also ask the county’s MPs to press the government on its commitment to restore 30% of land for nature by 2030 and to ensure that the 341 environmental EU laws due to be repealed this year will be replaced by equivalent or higher standards.
Cllr Turner said: “Nature is in crisis, nationally and internationally, and the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, seeing an accelerated decline in the loss of plant and animal species, including pollinator insects.
“We have lost worryingly high numbers of ancient woodlands and wetland habitats, many protected, biodiversity-rich Sites of Special Scientific Interest are in an unhealthy state and all English rivers are polluted, with only 14% considered healthy for animals and plants.”
She added: “Despite these shocking facts, the government does not have a plan for how to meet its commitment under the 2021 Environment Act to restore 30% of land for nature by 2030. Neither has it said how it intends to replace the EU environmental protection laws that are due to be scrapped.
“The Conservative government may be unwilling to act, but Stroud District Council also has obligations under the Environment Act and we intend to meet them. We will champion nature more widely, and ensure that the protection and restoration of nature is enshrined in everything we do.”