‘We are losing more nature than we are putting back’

Green city councillior and district councillor Sarah Sharp by a felled tree in Market Avenue in Chichester
Green city councillior and district councillor Sarah Sharp by a felled tree in Market Avenue in Chichester

A Green councillor has said Chichester’s climate emergency would be ‘just words’ if ‘concrete and practical’ action was not taken.

At a district council meeting on Tuesday, Sarah Sharp (Green, Chichester South) tabled a notice of motion listing a number of ideas to help it achieve a zero carbon footprint by 2050.

Mrs Sharp said: “In the summer the cabinet declared a climate emergency. However this declaration will just remain words unless we come up with concrete and practical actions.

“We are losing more nature in our district than we are putting back.”

She proposed six actions, with points including: the appointment of a tree champion, reducing the frequency of grass cutting, banning the use of herbicides and pesticides in public areas under the council’s control, and working with others to install ‘green’ roofs on the district’s bus stops.

Mrs Sharp added: “People are seeing trees cut down all around us, largely due to planning applications which have been passed. There isn’t anything we can do about that, obviously.

“However residents would like to see more replacement planting taking place on a large scale so that they feel this balance is being readdressed.”

CDC declared a climate emergency in July.

Jonathan Brown (Lib Dem, Southbourne) said: “I think public perception – and I don’t think they’re wrong in this – is that we’re not doing anywhere near enough to respond quickly enough or in a significant enough way.

“I accept there are severe limitations upon what we can do thanks to the uselessness of central government but there is still more that we can do.”

Penny Plant, cabinet member for the environment, told Mrs Sharp that she ‘absolutely agreed’ with the motion and pointed out that some of the suggestions were already being worked on.

She added that the ideas needed to go to the relevant committees – the environment and development & infrastructure panels – for more detailed work and consideration.

Mrs Plant said: “My focus is to ensure that these points are not only noted but will be integrated into other policy developments which are being brought forward.

“This should enable operational improvements and changes agreed to be enacted as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Leader Eileen Lintill also supported the motion and the need for more work to be carried out before Mrs Sharp’s ideas were adopted.

She said: “It would be very easy for us to say yes we’ll have a tree champion but what does that mean? I think it is right and proper that the environment panel think about this and, if they decide they’re going to have a tree champion, what exactly they want that person to do.

“I would strongly support the whole ethos around this but I do think it needs to go through the relevant panels.”