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Council responds to Ecological Emergency call

By Velela - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Councillors will be asked to declare an ecological emergency in County Durham next week following a Green Party initiative to do more to stop the decline of wildlife and natural habitats.

Green Party County Councillor Jonathan Elmer has been the driving force in raising concerns about the ecological state of the county.

He addressed the council’s Cabinet in October 2021 on the issue, and it was decided that its overview and scrutiny committee would examine evidence relating to the decline of natural habitats and species in County Durham.

The Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s (ECOSC) review report to go before Cabinet on Wednesday 6 April shows overwhelming evidence of global and national decline in habitats and species. While the local data included is less extensive, it strongly mirrors national and global trends relating to the condition of sites of special scientific interest, local wildlife sites, habitats and a range of species from fish, birds, mammals and insects.

Councillor Elmer said: “County Durham is the first council in the North East to declare an Ecological Emergency.

“The data paints a grim picture of decline of species and habitats. If we don’t act now to respond to this the state of the county’s ecology will decline further.

“Healthy biodiverse ecosystems in County Durham, as well as supporting iconic species such as Black Grouse and the Durham Argus Butterfly are also vital for our own survival on the planet. Many of our habitats, such as upland peatland and wetlands are important stores of carbon and soak up water to reduce flooding.

“Once the Cabinet has made the declaration of an ecological emergency it will lead to a cross Council review of service provision to identify opportunities for revising council practice to benefit ecosystems.

“Changes to service will form the basis of an ‘Ecological Emergency Response Plan’ and an officer position will be created to conduct the review and develop the response plan.”


For further information contact Richard Simpson, Communications Officer, 07821 537106