HEREFORDSHIRE Council has declared a climate and ecological emergency.

Independent councillor William Wilding, who proposed the new motion, said the heavy lifting was already done last year when the council declared a climate emergency.

He commended the previous administration’s work but said it was important for the council to convert its previous motion.

“Given that we do have an ecological emergency as well as a climate emergency I think it’s a good idea that we up our game and convert our previous motion into this one,” he said.

Conservative councillor Elissa Swinglehurst said the ecological emergency is the silent partner in the debate about climate change.

She said councillors needed to “speak for the rivers, the hills of Herefordshire, the meadows, the woods, the curlew and the water vole. For all the natural wonders of our present pastures”.

“We have an amazing environment in Herefordshire, but we have seen the impact of human activity on the fragile ecosystems around us,” coun Swinglehurst said.

“Everything we do has an impact of one sort of another and we have to cultivate the habit of outweighing our needs against the needs of other species with which we share the planet.”

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“The point of integrating this into everything we do as a council is really important and work, we are already doing.

“We have sought to address the very real problem of agricultural pollution and the devastating impact it is having on our waterways.”

Former council leader Tony Johnson said he applauded the motives behind the motion but warned against measures which could “create a stick to be beaten with”.

“I do have a concern that we may, by restricting, come to regret policies we’ve made without clear evidence or empirical observation.

“Anything with the potential to adversely affect the economy should be the subject of rigorous debate and scrutiny.

“This ghastly pandemic has shown clearly that anything you do that restricts the movement of people has dreadful effects on jobs, incomes and welfare.

“My concern is that we are perhaps creating a stick with which we will be subsequently beaten when there come difficult times when we are having to make choices between the economy and the environment.”

He said policies should be government by objective and considered evidence.

It’s Our County councillor Liz Harvey, who is a beekeeper, spoke of how difficult it is to keep the pollinators alive at the moment.

“They fail to thrive. We are just nursing them along. I haven’t taken honey off my bees for three years on the trot.

“It’s a struggle, and that’s just one facet of this ecological emergency.”

Councillors backed the motion by 37 votes for it, two against and three abstentions.