Wildlife trust backs council's 'bold' biodiversity pledges

Richard Rout and Andrew Stringer have spoken of the biodiversity pledges Suffolk County Council looks to achieve by 2030.

Richard Rout and Andrew Stringer have spoken of the biodiversity pledges Suffolk County Council looks to achieve by 2030. - Credit: Suffolk County Council/LDRS

Cut herbicide use and increase tree planting are among Suffolk County Council's pledges to enhance biodiversity across its land in the next eight years. 

The cross-party task force's measures look to enhance biodiversity across its land by at least 30% and was unanimously backed on Tuesday by the council's cabinet.

The pledges include ceasing the use of glyphosate for routine weed treatment by 2023, trialling less harmful de-icing materials and planting trees in areas with air quality problems.

The plan incorporates all areas of the council’s land and assets, including highways and county farms.

Councillor Richard Rout, deputy leader and Conservative cabinet member for finance and environment, said: “Biodiversity is in decline nationally, and across the globe. These plans are not just about stopping its decline here in Suffolk, but reversing it.

“By 2030  we want to see much more biodiversity on our estate than there is now.

“The council can have great influence on the natural environment, as we are a significant landowner, we are the highway authority and we build new housing."

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The authority said it is on course to plant 100,000 trees this year following the same amount last year.

Ben McFarland, head of conservation at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said there needed to be at least 30% of land and sea in recovery for nature by 2030 and called the commitment "a bold, ambitious plan".

Mr McFarland said: "To tackle the twin crises of the climate and biodiversity emergencies it’s essential that nature is embedded into our collective decision-making. This bold, ambitious plan from Suffolk County Council does just that.

"Showing leadership, working collaboratively, and acting on carbon and nature together will underpin a healthy and thriving Suffolk for everyone. This is a hugely positive step forward for our county.”

The measures have been welcomed by the opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group, but raised concerns that the recommendations are being funded only from next year’s budget.

Group leader Andrew Stringer said: “While we are delighted that the council is taking steps to understand the importance of enhancing Suffolk’s biodiversity, it is a shame these recommendations could not be a part of this year’s budget.

“Waiting another year only reduces the time we have to fulfil our ambitions. We have a 2030 objective, and these projects won’t be able to kickstart until 2024.”