Agenda item

Ecological Emergency Action Plan

This matter is the responsibility of the Executive Member for Climate Change.

Report Author:  Katherine Church, Project Manager, Climate Change.


The Ecological Emergency Vision and Action Plan (EEVAP) is a joint initiative between Somerset West and Taunton and Sedgemoor District Councils. The vision sets out our ambitions for nature recovery and the action plan is the framework through which we will deliver these ambitions. This work builds on the nature-based actions listed within the Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Action Plan (CNCR) with a particular focus on nature recovery.

If approved, the vision and action plan will embed ecological actions across work streams and will deliver ecological enhancement and protection across the two districts and beyond. In the advent of unitary, the EEVAP sets a precedent and a template for collaboration which can be duplicated across the county after vesting day.



The Portfolio Holder for Climate Change introduced the report:  

·        In September 2020 the Council declared an ecological emergency.  

·        The previous Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Plan (CNCR) contained many actions linked to the ecological emergency, but this Ecological Vision and Action Plan expanded upon those actions.  

·        The Council had been working with Sedgemoor District Council since August 2021 on Climate Change and had worked with Sedgemoor to formulate the vision and action plan.  


The Project Manager for Climate Change introduced the report:  

·        The vision and action plan completed the commitment made by the Council following the declaration of an ecological emergency in 2020.  

·        The vision and action plan had been formulated with input from members. 

·        The vision document was a strategic piece setting out the Councils’ ambitions for tacking the ecological emergency.  

·        The action plan set out how targets and ambitions would be achieved. Some actions were specific to only one council, and some applied to both Sedgemoor and Somerset West and Taunton.  

·        This financial year no additional resource or budget was being requested. However, some statutory requirements could result in additional resource being required.  

·        There was a joint climate change delivery partnership with Sedgemoor. This had enabled collective work and set a good precedent for the new unitary council.  

·        Working with partnership organisations such as the Somerset Wildlife Trust would be required to meet the ambitions laid out in the report. Going forward the Council was in discussions to take the emergency vision and action plan into the new unitary council.  


During the debate the following points were raised:  

·        It was asked about the action plan and the action around species on the red threatened species list and whether there should also be an ambition to avoid amber list species from becoming red list species. Officers responded that adding this to the action plan could be looked at, the aim was to protect all wildlife. 

·        Support for the action plan was given.  

·        It was asked why there was a joint plan with Sedgemoor and not with other Councils. It was responded by officers that this partnership had been formed before the unitary decision was taken.  

·        Both the local and global perspectives of the report, vision and action plan were praised.  

·        It was acknowledged that partnership working would be important.  

·        The intent to cease using peat in the Council’s nurseries was praised as was the intent to restore peatland.  

·        Some areas where more could be done such as around coastal areas were highlighted.  

·        It was raised that it would be good to add an explanation of COP26 to the report.  

·        It was asked if a definition of further afield could be made clearer at the start of the vision document and instead replaced with ‘and to lessen our impact on the natural world’. Officers responded that they would review the wording in the decision document.  

·        The Chair thanked the portfolio holder and Project Manager for Climate Change. 


Councillors Richard Lees, Simon Coles and Janet Lloyd left the room during this item so they could not participate in the vote on it.  


The Committee resolved to note the recommendations in the report:  

2.1 The ecological vision and action plan are approved.  

2.2 Existing governance arrangements identified in the Somerset West and Taunton /Sedgemoor District Council Joint Climate Change Delivery Partnership are maintained and used as a framework for delivery and monitoring of the action plan. 

2.3 Somerset West and Taunton with Sedgemoor District Council lead the creation and delivery of ecological recovery.  

2.4 Annual reporting will be undertaken in conjunction with CNCR reporting. 


Supporting documents: