Newark and Sherwood becomes first Midlands Council to declare Ocean commitment

Posted on: Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The District Council has, this week, vowed to act to protect our waterways and ocean in the fight against climate change and pollution.

District Councillors are voted in to reflect the voices of local residents and, as such, can present ‘motions’ to Full Council. If adopted, these can shape the way the District Council delivers its services.  Last week, two new motions were presented and both adopted.

Councillor Emma Oldham, Portfolio Holder for Biodiversity and Environmental Services at Newark and Sherwood District Council, introduced a proposal called 'Motion for the Ocean'. The goal of this proposal is to encourage local authorities, including both coastal and inland councils, to contribute to achieving a clean, healthy and productive ocean.

This initiative aims to highlight the various benefits, such as economic growth, improved health, and overall well-being, that a healthy ocean can provide. So far, 18 councils of different types ranging from Town, Parish, City and County Councils have embraced this motion, indicating a growing commitment to ocean conservation at a local level.

Councillor Oldham explains, “No matter where we reside in the UK, we're all intimately connected to the ocean, always within 70 miles of its shores. Our lives are intricately woven with the ocean's influence, from the air we breathe to the food we consume, and the crucial role it plays in regulating our climate. Even if we don't reside by the coast, our daily actions have a profound impact—through the pollutants we discharge down our drains, to the litter and pollution that find their way into our rivers, and the carbon emissions we generate.

I express my heartfelt gratitude to all Councillors for their unanimous support in prioritising our ocean and local waterways in our future decision-making. Through the adoption of this motion, we are embarking on a path of environmental leadership. We are committed to proactive collaboration with other organisations, stakeholders and local communities, working collectively to revive the health of our local waterways and, by extension, our ocean. Our commitment is founded on inclusivity, serving as a catalyst to ensure that every child can experience the wonder of the sea. In a district like Newark and Sherwood, home to England and Wales' eighth most polluted river, this motion becomes a cornerstone for educating our citizens and elevating the health of our waterways.

Of the other 18 Councils that have declared a Motion for the Ocean, I am proud to say that Newark and Sherwood District Council is the furthest inland Council to make that commitment.  The motion is a blueprint for local action, developed by leading ocean experts, Emily Cunningham, Dr Pamela Buchan and Nicola Bridge, and now it has been adopted it will help shape the services we deliver across Newark and Sherwood.  I look forward to the positive changes we, as a Council, can now make to the benefit of our oceans.”

Emily Cunningham, Midlands-based ocean expert and co-founder of the Motion for the Ocean said: “Congratulations to Newark and Sherwood District Council on becoming the first Midlands Council to make an Ocean Recovery Declaration. The burden of taking care of our ocean is often left to communities at the coast; but they are at the end of the line, receiving litter and pollution from inland communities like ours. Actions that we take here in the Midlands can have a significant impact, benefitting local and coastal communities alike. This admirable environmental leadership from the NSDC administration recognises that no matter where we live, we impact, and are impacted by, ocean health. I applaud the Councillors and look forward to seeing what they achieve.

In adopting the motion, the District Council has committed to a number of initiatives. These include plans to work with responsible authorities and groups with an interest in the River Trent to create an action plan which will protect and recover the River’s water quality.

The District Council will work with the responsible authorities to ensure that all primary school-aged children in Newark and Sherwood have a first-hand experience of understanding the importance of the ocean and the River Trent, striving to ensure that home-schooled children are also engaged. The District Council will also write to the Government, calling on them to put the ocean into recovery by 2030 in its bid to ensure it is doing all it can to help combat climate change.

The second motion focused on the concerns raised in the recent Special Report from the United Nations Secretary General and further details about both motions, are available on the District Council’s website.