Cardiff Council votes to declare city-wide nature emergency


At last night's meeting of Cardiff's Full Council, votes were cast which resulted in a declaration of a nature emergency in the capital city.

The emergency declaration was put forward in a motion tabled by the Council's Labour group, with two separate amendments from the Liberal Democrat group and the Conservative group.

It comes after the Council's decision to declare a climate emergency in 2019, and the public carbon-neutral commitment made in October this year, set out in the  One Planet Strategy which was approved by Cabinet.

Speaking during last night's meeting, Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment, Cllr Michael Michael, said:"I'm delighted that Council passed this motion. We are all very aware about the climate emergency, it's just as important that we all recognise the nature and biodiversity emergency we are all facing now too.

"Much of tonight's debate hinged on current developments drawing in the new Velindre cancer hospital in the Northern Meadows and the much-needed house building programmes around the city's outskirts.

"The truth is we have to learn how to grow our city, to tackle the housing crisis, to deliver the hospitals, schools and doctor's surgeries we will all need to create a thriving Cardiff, all while finding a way to look after nature and biodiversity and while tackling climate change.

"This council is committed to that journey as outlined in our One Planet Strategy. We are working to get make Cardiff zero carbon by 2030 and we are introducing policies which will help save the nature and biodiversity around us.

"Of course, we don't have powers which allow us to put an immediate stop to certain developments, even if we wanted to. We are legally bound by current planning laws which the planning committee has to adhere to.

"However, we have already delivered and we are continuing to develop supplementary planning guidance which is helping to shape our city for the better, guiding developers who want to come to Cardiff and who want to play a vital part in our city's growth, bringing jobs and much-needed housing.

"Declaring a Nature and Bio-Diversity Emergency will help shape our policies as we move forward making clear the vision of the city we want to - and can - become."

The result of the vote on the Labour motion was 67 for; 0 against and 3 abstain. The Liberal Democrat motion lost with 32 for; 39 against and 0 abstain, and the result of the Conservative motion was 32 for, 39 against and 0 abstain.

In voting through the Labour motion and the Liberal Democrat amendment, the Council made a resolution to:

  • Declare a Nature Emergency in Cardiff.
  • Place biodiversity with equal prominence to climate change at the heart of decision making in Cardiff Council.
  • Make representations to the Welsh and UK Governments, as appropriate; to provide the necessary powers, resources and technical support to local authorities in Wales to help them successfully achieve this aim.
  • Continue to work with partners across the county, region and nationally to develop and implement best practice methods that can protect Wales' biodiversity. Including seeking a joint approach with neighbouring authorities.
  • Work with local stakeholders including Councillors, residents, young people, businesses and other relevant parties, to develop a strategy aligned with One Planet and Coed Caerdydd with a target of no net loss of biodiversity. This will also explore ways to maximise the local benefits of these actions in other sectors such as employment, health, agriculture, transport and the economy.
  • Having declared a nature emergency, and previously a climate emergency, ensure that all future Council and Cabinet decisions are informed by a prior assessment of their impact on both the climate and biodiversity.

Along with the commitments made in the One Planet Cardiff strategy, last month, the local authority held a public consultation on Coed Caerdydd,  a project which aims to plant thousands of trees to create an urban forest across the city, after close to £1m in funding was secured from the Welsh Government and the Coed Cadw (the Woodland Trust in Wales) emergency tree fund.

Last night's Labour motion was proposed and seconded by Cllrs Bob Derbyshire and Jane Henshaw, respectively. The Liberal Democrat amendment by Cllrs Rodney Berman and Ashley Wood, and the Conservative amendment by Cllrs John Lancaster and David Walker.

A full copy of the motion, and the two amendments are available to download  here,  and a recording of last night's full council meeting can be viewed  here.