Nature emergency declared in Carmarthenshire

A nature emergency has been declared by Carmarthenshire councillors, despite concerns about new developments granted by the authority potentially damaging habitats and wildlife.

Members of full council supported an emergency declaration motion to tie in with the climate emergency they approved three years ago.

It said the nature question should be considered by a new cross-party panel, with United Nations biodiversity aspirations and commitments set out in an agreement known as the Edinburgh declaration adopted.

READ MORE:Council u-turn on 4.4% council tax rise in Carmarthenshire

Plaid councilors Liam Bowen and Aled Vaughan Owen, who introduced and seconded the motion, said biodiversity targets kept being missed and that Wales had lost 73 species since the 1970s while a further 660 were at risk of extinction.

Climate change, urbanization, agricultural management and pollution, said Cllr Vaughan Owen, were among the drivers for this.

Cllr Rob Evans said he supported the motion but added that proposals had been put forward to reuse a quarry site on council land in his Dafen ward which was “choc-a-bloc with trees and wildlife”.

It would be a contradiction, he said, if consent was given for this and a nature emergency declared.

Cllr Dai Nicholas said plans to use another old quarry site for recycling in his Llandybie ward were “very concerning for me”.

Cllr Gary Jones said he hoped nature issues would be a top priority, if the declaration was made, when three housing schemes on council land – including a woodland area – were determined in his Llangennech ward.

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Cllr Ann Davies, cabinet member for communities and rural affairs, said the authority was already considering ways to benefit the environment on its land, for instance by planting trees and creating biodiversity corridors.

And cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Hazel Evans, said biodiversity measures were addressed in a council environmental action plan.

Cllr Kevin Madge said he had noticed a decline in bees and butterflies, and said the council could look at mass-producing bird and bat boxes.

Labor opposition leader, Cllr Rob James, said he wanted to know how much investment would back up a nature emergency declaration.

“One of the frustrations for councillors is when we make these bold gestures and we don’t see significant progress,” he said.

Cllr Alun Lenny, who is chairman of the planning committee, said it was “hamstrung” by planning policies, but that every proposal it had considered to have an ecological appraisal.

He added that hundreds of green fields would be saved when a new local development plan for Carmarthenshire was adopted, because it allocated land for 8,000 fewer homes than the previous development plan introduced under a Labor administration.


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