Dear Councillor Yeomans,
Stephanie Hilborne OBE Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts with the support of Somerset Wildlife Trust is speaking today at the National Ecological Network Conference in Edinburgh. By coincidence today our County Council may well be turning its back on our natural environment.
It is clear to me that the environment in Somerset underpins our local economy, our communities, and our way of life. It marks the County out as somewhere special. We can gain much value from the opportunities we have in our special environmental assets. In our economy and our communities, cuts will squander this extraordinary natural capital advantage, and risk sacrificing a healthy natural environment which should be a vibrant part of a successful Somerset.
Nature benefits society, it supports and generates economic activity. There is ample evidence available from our own County to show how important,investment in ecological infrastructure, is to small businesses and to the rural economy. From clean water and air, to fertile soils and food, Somerset’s natural environment offers us a wealth of free services and goods.. The cuts will compromise Somerset’s environmental assets, and will prove a costly mistake.
Our environment is not a luxury for better times; it’s a key asset for now, not a hindrance or extra. This is reflected in the national and international regulatory frameworks laid out to protect it. The Council has a number of statutory responsibilities towards nature, and without sufficient skilled and experienced staff it is difficult to see how the authority will discharge these requirements. A failure to protect and enhance the county’s environment will be to the detriment of us all including our children in the future and especially in facing up to climate change.
The County Council has responsibility to safe guard the county’s economic, environmental and social interests and act in accordance with the wishes of the local population. I strongly urge you to argue against the proposed cuts in the Countryside,Ecology and Environment services until an assessment of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the proposed service reductions has been undertaken and until you have consulted with key stakeholders including the Somerset Local Nature Partnership.
Sent by email.
Copies to local wildlife and environmental groups and web sites.