Tuesday, 1 February, 2022
An Open Letter from SHBC Leader Cllr Alan McClafferty.
Surrey Heath Borough Council (SHBC) declared its support for the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill at the Full Council meeting held on 15 December 2021.
SHBC previously declared a climate emergency in October 2019 and committed to becoming a net zero council, establishing a Climate Change Working Group and Climate Change Action Plan, to work towards achieving the ambitious net-zero carbon emission target by 2030 as an organisation, and contribute to making the Borough net zero by 2050 (with the aspiration for net zero by 2030). SHBC has now declared an ‘Ecological Emergency’ to accompany the Climate Emergency.
The CEE Bill Alliance, made up of scientists, lawyers and activists, tabled a Private Members Bill in Parliament. So far, 118 MPs have supported the bill. The bill sets an emergency path for the UK to follow, including the creation of a Citizens’ Assembly, ensuring the UK plays its fair and proper role in limiting global temperatures to 1.5°C and actively conserving the natural world.
The CEE Bill sets out a whole-of-government emergency plan to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels and reverse the destruction of nature. The Bill is about tackling the climate and nature crises together to cut UK emissions and stay below 1.5°C of global warming. This involves halting and reversing UK biodiversity loss by 2030; taking responsibility for the entirety of our global carbon and ecological footprints, and involving the public in determining a fair way forward.
At the meeting on 15 December 2021, SHBC declared its support for the CEE Bill. The Council believes that all governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate and Ecological Breakdown; and that local authorities have a key role to play through their own local policies.
In accordance the Council recognises that all tiers of local government are well placed to lead the way in reducing carbon emissions and tackling the ecological emergency as they have closer links with their residents. Having already declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and committed to carbon neutrality by 2030, it also recognises there is an ecological emergency. The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill highlights the urgency of the twin climate and ecological emergencies.
Therefore, the Council declared an ‘Ecological Emergency’ to accompany the already-declared Climate Emergency.
The Council commits to leading by example and promoting the good work it is currently undertaking. The Council will continue working with partners and volunteers locally and regionally to drive coordinated leadership and collaborative action to aid the recovery of nature and natural environments and identify areas for greater biodiversity.
The Council aims to ensure irreplaceable habitats are protected, that biodiversity mitigation hierarchy is followed and that net biodiversity gain is fully implemented.
The Council will be reviewing and implementing a borough-wide Tree Strategy; will continue to review Surrey Heath’s Green Infrastructure Strategy, and ensure new developments contribute to increasing biodiversity and ecological improvement.
SHBC has registered its support for the CEE Bill with the CEE Bill Alliance and has also written to the Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath to urge him to sign up to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.
Cllr Alan McClafferty
Leader, Surrey Heath Borough Council