Herefordshire Council declares a 'climate emergency'

WildNet - Don Sutherland

On 8th March, following the lead of councils across the UK, Herefordshire Council declared a Climate Emergency*. Herefordshire has the potential to be a leader in carbon footprint reduction with many organisations already supporting local communities and individuals to do just that including New Leaf Sustainable Development, our managing partners at Queenswood Country Park & Arboretum and Bodenham Lake Nature Reserve.

A changing climate can have a huge impact on our native wildlife. The seasonal patterns of flowers blooming, insects emerging, birds nesting and species migrating will all be disrupted. Our ecosystems are carefully balanced and a change to these timings can have disastrous effects such as a lack of food for fledglings or pollen for bees causing populations to crash. In a landscape of already fragmented and minimal habitats, species do not have the resilience to survive such disruption for long.  Furthermore, many species will need to move through the countryside to remain in the temperature range to which they have evolved.  This could be moving to higher altitudes, different aspects or travelling long distances to more northerly latitudes. This can only happen if they have well connected habitats.

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust along with other organisations in the County are working hard to mitigate the impacts of climate change to both wildlife and people.  We are therefore delighted that Herefordshire Council has unanimously declared a climate emergency.   We believe that this emergency, like all emergencies, requires urgent and immediate action and we are ready to work with the Council and to play our part in this challenge.

As landowners, managing 534 hectares of Herefordshire for wildlife, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust can play an exemplar role in carbon sequestration in our soils. The meadows we manage are grazed and cut for hay but never ploughed so the carbon within the soil remains locked, in while our woodlands similarly sequester carbon.  Through our Living Landscapes we are working with landowners and communities to provide the essential habitat connectivity to make our wildlife more resilient to threats of Climate Change

At Queenswood Country Park & Arboretum, our partners New Leaf Sustainable Development are launching a Sustainability Hub to promote ways that individuals, communities and businesses can reduce their environmental impact. Already the site showcases solar thermal heating and solar energy panels, promotes recycling and is introducing low energy alternatives wherever possible. 

With movements emerging nationally and internationally to call for government action, the Wildlife Trusts continue to campaign at the highest levels, insisting the government creates a strong Environment Act which puts our landscapes and wildlife first and calling on individuals to get involved through our Wilder Futures campaign.

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust welcomes the declaration of a Climate Emergency and hopes to play a part in creating a zero-carbon Herefordshire.

Notes:

*In declaring a Climate Emergency, the Council resolved that:

This Council declares its recognition of the climate emergency and calls on the executive to:

a)    Commit to an accelerated reduction of the Council’s carbon emissions, with the aspirations to be carbon neutral by 2030; and to change its energy supply to 100% renewable source;

b)    Produce a successor to the current Carbon Management Plan (2019-2023) within the early months of the new council;

c)    Work with partners to produce an action plan, covering all relevant council strategies, and to submit this plan via Scrutiny to Cabinet by the end of 2019;

d)    Call upon our ‘Re-Energise’ partners to match or better the council’s commitment; to publicise their response and to lead on working with the public to promote and encourage carbon reduction in all aspects of the county’s life;

e)    Provide the necessary resource for officers to deliver on the council’s carbon reduction commitments, and to monitor and report annually on the county position; and

f)    The council requests the executive to arrange a full day interactive seminar for all councillors as soon as possible to be briefed on and discuss the options that might be open to Herefordshire Council to expedite its carbon footprint reduction aspiration and improve further the natural environment of Herefordshire.

**Herefordshire Wildlife Trust Environmental Sustainability Policy: September 2018

1.            Introduction

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s vision is for a Herefordshire richer and more diverse in wildlife that is valued, and cared for, by its people to the benefit of all.

We recognise that many of our activities can have some level of negative impact on the environment, for example the emissions of CO2 as a result of energy consumption, and that this needs to be balanced against the positive conservation outcomes that our activities deliver.  We want to conduct our business and operations in a way that meets our conservation goals but minimises environmental impact and where possible mitigates or compensates for it.

2.            Position Statement on Environmental sustainability

As a matter of principle, we will seek to minimise adverse environmental impacts in everything we do. Specifically, our ambition is to:

  • meet and exceed all statutory regulations:
  • set priorities and targets for sustainability improvements in our key areas of procurement, waste, biodiversity, water and energy / travel;
  • raise awareness of sustainability issues amongst staff and volunteers and encourage individuals to adopt sustainable practices;
  • communicate the value of the environment and sustainability to members, supporters, and local communities, particularly around people’s own impact, direct or indirect, on biodiversity;
  • meet best practice guidelines on the procurement, use and sale, of goods and services that minimises negative environmental impacts, where possible
  • adapt existing buildings and operations to a changing climate;
  • in all capital developments, to be aware of significant environmental impacts or concerns and ensure that we minimise these impacts and strive to be as sustainable as it is practicable to be;
  • address potentially detrimental environmental impacts of our practical management interventions and those of our contractors including impacts beyond the work site; and
  • recognise the link between organisational sustainability and the health and wellbeing of our staff and volunteers; in particular, the detrimental impact stress (e.g. workload, environmental, etc.) can have on mental health, physical health and personal wellbeing.

3.            Monitoring and delivery of the environment policy

Priorities for delivery against these ambitions will be set annually in the HWT Business Plan so that progress is monitored regularly.

The delivery of our Sustainability Policy will be led by the Management Team and overseen by the Director, who will review progress against Business Plan targets quarterly and inform staff of this progress at All Staff meetings and through staff news updates.

4.            Key actions

This policy is intended to provide a framework for good practice within the

organisation so that Herefordshire Wildlife Trust can promote greater sustainability

whilst ensuring that:

  • Trustees can be confident that resources are being expended wisely;
  • third parties can be assured that their funding is put to the best possible use for the environment across all work areas; and
  • suppliers and potential suppliers are aware of the need to provide sustainable and environmentally sound options in order to win our business.

We aim to promote sustainable procurement, by:

  • improving our environmental sustainability by purchasing products that have the least impact on the environment where-ever possible, from production through to consumption; 
  • understanding the complexities and limitations of accurately measuring what is sustainable in a complex, post-industrial, globally linked, economy; 
  • visibly support the local economy;
  • encouraging use of a diverse base of suppliers, that have clear procurement and sustainability practices, where-ever possible; and
  • defining in simple terms to the membership and the public what they can do to contribute to the preservation and improvement of the natural environment through conscientious consumption.   

We aim to improve our environmental sustainability, by:

  • seeking to reduce waste by monitoring the amount and type of materials purchased and following the waste hierarchy to first: Prevent; Reduce; Reuse; Recycle; Recover; then Dispose;
  • continually seek opportunities to purchase refurbished and recycled equipment, products and materials;
  • source renewable energy where possible and seek to minimise energy consumption, loss and wastage;
  • ensure any vehicles purchased have low emissions, high miles per gallon and where practical battery or hybrid power;
  • seek to incorporate water efficiency and the use of recycled water or rainwater systems into building developments;
  • purchase organic, fair-trade and local food where possible;
  • purchase environmentally friendly, low impact, recyclable or degradable products where possible;
  • at sites such as Queenswood Country Park, seek to demonstrate to the public innovative solutions to waste, eg using a wormery to reduce organic waste and provide compost for plants.

 

We aim to understand the impact of our procurement activities on local communities by:

  • encouraging our suppliers to make a positive contribution to the local communities in which they work on our behalf by supplying 1% of their pre-tax profits to local initiatives such as the Wildlife Trust; and
  • exploring opportunities for developing relationships with suppliers leading the way in sustainable living, production and education.

Encouraging use of a diverse base of suppliers

  • explore opportunities for working with voluntary and community organisations in the supply and delivery of products and services.

5.            Review

The Policy will be updated in 2021, or earlier should the need arise.

Signed off by the Board of Trustees, 19th September 2018