Council’s commitment to further enhancing Suffolk’s natural environment

Suffolk County Council will be doing even more for the county’s natural environment, as it confirms plans to enhance the biodiversity of at least 30% of its land and assets, by 2030.

This means it will be progressing its work around managing highway trees, planting more hedgerow, nature-based flood management solutions, roadside nature reserves, and much more.

The council already planted 100,000 trees last year, and is on course to plant another 100,000 this year. It has also put in around 20 kilometres of mixed species hedgerow.

Councillor Richard Rout, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Environment at Suffolk County Council, 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. 

“We have made a lot of progress in recent years, not least with our tree planting, having committed to £400,000 from our Suffolk 2020 Fund. Just a few months ago we secured more funding from the Forestry Commission, on behalf of our borough and district councils, to plant trees in neglected and disused community spaces, bringing them back to life.

“We will ensure we manage our highway verges for biodiversity wherever we can; we will support our county farm tenants to enhance biodiversity across our farm estate; we will deliver twice the biodiversity net gain required through our housing programme.

“By working with our partners and local communities, we can help wildlife to thrive, increase habitats and species across the county, and reverse the decline we’ve seen.”

Ben McFarland, Head of Conservation, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, 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.

“We need at least 30% of our land and sea in recovery for nature by 2030. 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 plans will also help work towards the council’s ambitions of being a Net Zero organisation by 2030, with Suffolk’s nature being an integral part of the carbon cycle.

The policy’s ambitions stretch across the whole organisation, from looking at the impact of street lighting, to how it procures goods and services.

One example of the positive changes that the council will make, is to stop using Glyphosate in all highway maintenance operations. This will happen as soon as it is able to deploy a suitable alternative, and at the latest by 2023 for routine weed treatment programmes. The council will work with other local authorities, both locally and through the Local Government Association, in reaching this goal as soon as possible.

The proposals were agreed at Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet meeting on 1 February 2022, following the work undertaken by the Policy Development Panel which was set up in July 2021.

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