Burnham-On-Sea & Highbridge Town Council has this week declared a ‘climate and ecological emergency’ after hearing about the local impacts of climate change during its latest meeting.

In passing the motion, the Town Council has committed to creating a net zero council and towns by 2030.

The motion was proposed by recently elected councillor for Highbridge, Barbara Vickers, who gave a full presentation at this week’s meeting with statistics concerning climate warming, increased flood risk, the loss of habitats and wildlife, and bird reduction.

A climate and ecological action plan will be established to last until 2027, with the first steps to be taken at a public open meeting.

The open meeting will seek interested parties from the community to work on the action plan. It was agreed that Mayor Cllr Lesley Millard and Cllr Julie Flurry will be the Town Council’s representatives on the group to create and deliver the plan.

The action plan will have specific targets concerning energy, transport, waste, green spaces, and ecological protection.

However, Cllr Peter Clayton proposed a change to Cllr Vickers’ proposal, which was agreed unanimously, in the interest of removing duplication and cost.

Instead of the Council employing its own ‘sustainability officer’ to move forward with the action plan, officer support should be obtained from Somerset County Council and until it is disbanded, Sedgemoor District Council.

These Councils declared their own climate emergencies in 2019 so have resources available upon which the Town Council can draw.

Prior to the start of the formal business of the meeting, a presentation was received from Bill Butcher, of the Somerset Climate Action Network. Mr Butcher described the situation as an “emergency” since time is running out to act.

In particular, he commented that there are “only a few years to reduce emissions drastically”. In order to achieve net zero carbon output by 2030, Somerset must eliminate its existing 3351 kilotons of annual carbon emissions.

Mr Butcher told the meeting upon questioning from a resident and Sedgemoor Councillor, Janet Keen, that there was no longer any place for individuals to make many small changes to lifestyles and habits, such as installing energy efficient lighting, or better insulation.  Only wholesale and dramatic changes to the way in which we all live are likely to be sufficient to prevent catastrophe, he said.

Guest contributor: Alex Turco

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