TROWBRIDGE town councillors have voted unanimously to declare an ecological emergency.

The vote at a full council meeting on Tuesday July 21 follows in the footsteps of a similar vote by Bradford on Avon Town Council.

Councillors unanimously accepted the recommendation from the Trowbridge Town Council Environmental Working Group.

The council will now develop and implement a clear ecology strategy as part of its 2021-2025 Town Strategy review and will commit to protecting, enhancing, establishing and managing new wildlife habitats where achievable.

It will also manage land under its control in as sustainable a way as is feasible and encourage Wiltshire Council and other related key partners to do likewise.

Council leader Stewart Palmen said: “I am delighted with the decision.

“The working group is made up of councillors from across the political spectrum, as well as community organisations and individuals concerned with environmental issues.

“The group worked on and unanimously proposed this recommendation after it was originally suggested by Trowbridge Environmental Community, and it has now received cross-party support within the council.

“Coupled with the declaration of a climate emergency from last year, the council will now not only put the climate but also the ecology at the centre of its policies, aiming to protect and enhance existing habitats for plants, insects and wildlife, as well as adding new habitats on the land under its control.”

He added: “Fifteen per cent of British wildlife is now at risk of extinction largely due to climate change and loss of habitat.

“It is vital that we reverse this trend and we believe the council should play a leading role in doing so.

“The council will not only take steps to mitigate its own contribution to the emergency but also highlight the issue and set an example to create mitigation plans in the wider community.”

“The council has already been active in protecting and enhancing the local ecology and this recommendation is designed to complement that by ensuring the council takes into account the impact it has on the climate, wildlife and plants and actively contributes to reversing the effects it has already had where it feasibly can.”

“It will involve building on the steps it has already successfully taken and could for example include the creation and management of new habitats on buildings, in parks and verges, as well as protecting existing habitats.

“With regards to grass cutting it could also include a default policy of only regularly cutting grass areas that are important recreational locations or where safety is an issue.

“We believe the council should also simultaneously provide information and education to the public about why such action is being taken as well as extolling the benefits of that action in order to carry public opinion with it.

“It should also be recognised that there is already considerable public opinion in favour of the council adopting such a pro-ecological stance so long as such areas are formally and properly managed.

“Trowbridge Environmental Community have been instrumental in bringing the idea of a declaration of an ecological emergency forward and we would like to thank them for their input.”