At her decision day meeting today (10 March), the County Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change and Sustainability, Councillor Jan Warwick approved the approach that will be taken to meet councils’ new responsibilities in response to the new Environment Act.
Commenting, Councillor Warwick said: “We have always been mindful of Hampshire’s ‘natural capital’, the quality of our environment, which is one of the reasons we declared a climate change emergency in 2019. The introduction of the Environment Act has given us even greater focus and an expanded remit to build on our work to date in partnership across Hampshire, to protect and enhance the natural environment and tackle climate change.”
The first dedicated Environment Act in 30 years, the Act has significant implications for the role, duty, and powers of local authorities, which include:
- Legally binding targets, including a 2030 target to halt species decline
- Mandatory provision for biodiversity net gain to be a condition of planning permission in England, meaning that housing and development, including new roads, will need to achieve at least a 10 per cent net gain in value for biodiversity.
- Introducing Species Conservation and Protected Site strategies to protect and restore species and habitats at risk while enabling development.
There is also a requirement to prepare and publish Local Nature Recovery Strategies for England to identify opportunities and priorities and inform Local Plans, and which will be key to the land use planning system. The County Council will be leading work on the preparation of this Strategy in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders.
Councillor Warwick continued: “While the Environment Act sets out new responsibilities for us, as we have said before, as a local authority, we simply cannot reach the county’s overall climate change targets alone. For Hampshire to be successful in meeting the challenge of tackling climate change – being carbon neutral and resilient to a two-degree temperature rise – our partners, residents and businesses must all play their part in taking action and create real lasting changes. Wherever we can, and where resources allow, we will provide appropriate support.
“I’m pleased that since we first declared a Climate Emergency, we have achieved a considerable amount, and continue to stride ahead in 2022 – our Year of Climate Resilience. We are committed to embedding climate change considerations into everything we do, but it is essential we carry on engaging with partners and communities, and continue to hear different views and ideas, and spread the word of what we can all do to help achieve these targets which are so important to the future of our county. Protecting and enhancing our natural environment is critical to our collective endeavour.”
The full Council report can be found online by visiting this webpage