Signed by many groups across the South Hams, below is a letter urging bolder action on climate change and biodiversity loss.
To Council Leader Judy Pearce and the Members of South Hams District Council
We, the undersigned, are community organisations, businesses, academics and individuals who are active across the South Hams. We welcome the declaration of a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency in July 2019 by South Hams District Council. We wish to support the leadership role of the Council to steer our community and local economy through this emergency, and in doing so to prioritise the future health and wellbeing of South Hams residents; ensure a sustainable local economy; restore the biodiversity of the South Hams and its coast; and mitigate against the catastrophic effects of climate change in our region.
However, there is a strong consensus among the scientific community that we are running out of time and that emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases must be more rapidly reduced. Climate change and biodiversity loss are already taking their toll in our area of Devon. For example, the Devon Bird Atlas (2016) shows declines of 60 bird species since their 1988 report, with 8 species now extinct (such as the Nightingale).
We call on South Hams District Council to agree a bold and comprehensive Climate and Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for the South Hams with ambitious targets and timelines for reducing emissions that sets out how the South Hams and its communities will achieve the transformation to a green local economy, putting green jobs and sustainable livelihoods at the heart of our recovery from the pandemic. In our view, the SHDC Plan in its present form does not yet deliver that. The Plan must be properly funded with an immediate allocation of the £400,000 already set aside for this purpose by South Hams District Council, through engagement with local experts and groups, and an emergency, single issue, Full Council meeting to take this forward if necessary. We acknowledge budgetary challenges as South Hams responds to the immediate Coronavirus pandemic, however, given the urgency of ensuring a green recovery, this is a good investment.
We believe that South Hams District Council is in a unique position at a pivotal time to provide leadership, good example and resources to drive meaningful societal change. Implementing a Climate and Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, whilst reviewing and aligning your other plans and policies to ensure proactive protection and conservation of our natural environment and wildlife heritage, will ensure a prosperous future for our people, our wildlife, and our planet for generations to come.
We would welcome more meaningful public engagement on how the Plan is to be achieved.
We support an emphasis on social justice and the need to deliver an actionable plan by, and for, all of us. We trust that South Hams District Council will make full use of the rich and varied support coming from various groups, businesses and individuals, some of us included, who are so willing to add their expert advice and time to this cause.
‘We must seize the opportunity to make the COVID-19 recovery a defining moment in tackling the climate crisis…….. act courageously – it’s there for the taking.” Reducing UK Emissions Progress Report to Parliament Committee on Climate Change, June 2020
The Almond Thief Bakery Dan Mifsud
Angie Greenham Citizen Journalist
Barn Owl Trust, David Ramsden MBE, Head of Conservation Bioregional Learning Centre, Isabel Carlisle
Bloom Renewables, Totnes Mark Bloomfield, Director Bridgetown Alive! Richard Mitchell, Founder and Chair
The Bull Inn, Totnes Geetie Singh-Watson
Devon Environment Foundation, Amanda Keetley
Don’t Bury Dartington under Concrete, Trudy Turrell
Earth.Food.Love and Rerooted Nicola, Richard and team
e-Xplore Devon, Andy Lucas & Karl Morgan Hough
The Flete Estate, John Mildmay-White
Food in Community CIC, David Markson and Chantelle Norton, Directors Friends of South Hams, Ian Bryan
Green Fuse/Heart & Soul Funerals, Simon Smith
Green and Wild, Kingsbridge, Rachel Saunders
Guy Singh-Watson, Founder and Creator, Riverford Organic Farms
Hot Pursuit Cycles Chris Berry, Director
Jonathan Dawson, Co-Ordinator of Economics, Schumacher College
Nigel Topping, UK Government High Level Climate Action Champion for UN climate talks, COP26
Nkuku Ltd, Alex Cooke
Park Farm, Lucy and Mark Davies
PL:21 Transition Initiative, John Pope
Rockfish, Mitch Tonks
Salcombe Distillery, Howard Davies and Angus Lugsdin, Co-founders and Directors The Seahorse Trust, Neil Garrick-Maidment
Singing Paddles Dave Halsall, Director
South Brent Parish Council
South Hams Climate Action Network
South Hams Society
Staverton Climate Action Group Simon Oldridge
Sustainable South Brent
Till the Coast is Clear CIC
Totnes Allotments Association, Cathy Kiddle
Totnes & Dartington Greater Horseshoe Bat Project, Michael Elsmere
Transition Town Totnes
TRESOC, Ian Bright
Venus Cafes, Michael Smith, Louisa Smith and Lee Porter
The Woodland Trust, Ross Kennerley, Regional Manager, South West England.