A CALL for Powys Council to declare an ecological emergency has been voted down.

Liberal Democrat councillors Jake Berriman and Jackie Charlton submitted the motion, which would see the council seek to protect biodiversity and wildlife in the county, at a full council meeting on Thursday, September 23.

It would build on, rather than replace, the climate emergency declared by the council last year.

Part of the motion included the council expressing support for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which was presented to the UK Parliament in September 2020 by Green MP Caroline Lucas.

And council bosses expressed concern about links between the motion and the Extinction Rebellion movement.

Council leader Cllr Rosemarie Harris (Independent) said: “I’m concerned that this CEE bill is being promoted by groups like Extinction Rebellion who’ve been involved in criminal activity, blocking roads and have even wanted to rewild land in Powys.”

She did not want the council associated with CEE bill and urged councillors to vote against the motions.

Conservative group leader and finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies pointed out that Farming Unions and the CLA (Country Land and Business Association) had not come out in support of the bill.

Cllr Davies said: “They do have a huge influence on the ecological status of our county, so I have real concerns about this. I wish further work to be done on it before we go down this road.”

He believed there was “insufficient evidence” to support the motion.

Cllr Jonathan Wilkinson (Conservative) said: “I’ve seen a decrease of biodiversity on my farm and in the county which is down to government post-war (Second World War) policies striving to produce food.

“Measures are being taken to put that right now.

“Tree planting, hedge planting and encouraging wildlife is working.

“I worry about the groups seeking to address climate change by forcing change in a very militant way.

“Our economy in Powys is very dependent on the success and prosperity of farming.”

Cllr James Gibson-Watt believed that not supporting the motion would send a “bad signal to residents”.

Cllr Gibson-Watt, the leader of the Liberal Democrat and Green group on the council, said: “There is a very serious situation developing and an ecological emergency is not an exaggeration.

“I cannot see any harm in this motion which makes a great deal of sense.”

He added that farming unions in Wales had already recognised the need to do more work “hand in hand with nature”.

The motion was lost with 31 voting against it and 24 in favour.