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  3. The Ecological Emergency
  4. How we're responding to the Ecological Emergency

How we're responding to the Ecological Emergency

We have a long history of work on biodiversity, landscape, and ecology. This means that there is a considerable amount of action already underway in Bath and North East Somerset and the West of England.

Working in partnership with other organisations, communities and businesses is critical to securing nature’s recovery and tackling the Ecological Emergency.

Find out more about our Green Infrastructure and Nature Recovery team

We formed a new Green Transformation service in 2022 to lead our response to the Climate and Ecological Emergencies.

In this service, the Green Infrastructure and Nature Recovery team focuses on:

  • Facilitating nature’s recovery
  • Delivering enhanced and new green infrastructure
  • Mitigating climate change
  • Meeting community needs for green space and access to nature

Partnerships and projects

Select a topic below to find out more about our partnerships and projects to address the Ecological Emergency.


West of England Nature Partnership (WENP)

We are a founding member of the West of England Nature Partnership (WENP). WENP is a cross-sector partnership between local and regional government, environmental charities, businesses, government organisations, farming representatives and many others.

We are working regionally and locally towards WENP’s vision of a thriving and well-connected natural environment in the West of England.

Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership

We are a member of the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership (BACP), which aims to improve the water environment and restore the health of the Catchment. A key aim of The Bristol Avon Catchment Plan 2022- 2027 is to restore biodiversity and ecology connectivity.

The Bristol Avon Fish Recovery Strategy sets out BACP’s vision for thriving fish populations in healthy rivers and opportunities to achieve this. Its guiding principles are to improve freshwater biodiversity and serve as a tool to assess the value of rivers in decision making.

The Strategy will be used to inform the development and delivery of the region’s Local Nature Recovery Strategy, land management schemes and strategic green infrastructure projects, and the implementation of Biodiversity Net Gain.

Natural History Consortium

We are part of the Natural History Consortium (NHC), a charitable collaboration of 14 organisations. The NHC works together to test and develop best practice to help engage people with the environment and natural world.

The NHC organises the Festival of Nature, City Nature Challenge, BioBlitz and the Communicate Conference. It is a crucial collaboration in improving people’s access to and engagement with nature across our region.

Green Infrastructure Partnership Projects

Our Green Infrastructure and Nature Recovery team are currently working on six partnership projects which are delivering a range of benefits for nature and building resilience to climate change:


The Bathscape is the natural landscape surrounding the World Heritage city of Bath. We launched the Bathscape scheme in 2018, aiming to improve the management and use of the landscape for people and nature.

Bath River Line

The Bath River Line is a green infrastructure project to rejuvenate the river corridor through Bath, running from Newbridge to Batheaston

The project involves improvements to the river, the riverside and paths, as well as parks situated close to the river, to create a continuous greenway through the heart of Bath.

Chew Valley Reconnected

Chew Valley Reconnected aims to better connect and improve wildlife, water and wellbeing in the Chew Valley, as well as address the impacts of climate change in the area. It includes the Chew Valley Lake Recreational Trail southern section project, which will mean people can access and enjoy the whole perimeter of the lake.

Somer Valley Rediscovered

The Somer Valley Rediscovered project aims to improve biodiversity and people’s access to and connection with nature in the Somer Valley.

The Somer Valley area covers Radstock, Midsomer Norton and Westfield, the large villages of Paulton and Peasedown St John and surrounding countryside and smaller villages.

Limestone Landscape Link

The Limestone Landscape Link is a partnership ambition to create a nature-rich landscape linking the limestone hills of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with the Cotswolds National Landscape surrounding Bath. As well as enabling wildlife to thrive and adapt to climate change, this will improve people’s access to the area and engagement with nature.

The Limestone Link also connects the Chew Valley Reconnected, Somer Valley Rediscovered and Bathscape project areas.

WaterSpace Connected

WaterSpace Connected is a large-scale infrastructure project following the River Avon from Bath to Bristol.

The project aims to revitalise the river and riverside to create a vibrant and resilient Nature Recovery Network. The project also aims to create a connected greenway, allowing people from across the region to access and enjoy the river.

Other ecological projects

Let's Get Buzzing

Our ‘Let’s Get Buzzing’ campaign has seen B&NES take the lead in changing its management practices across 42 hectares of our parks, open spaces, and verges to benefit biodiversity and increase communities’ access to nature-rich areas.

Bee Bold Pollinator Project

Our Bee Bold Pollinator Project focuses on creating new pollinator-rich habitats at eight sites across Bath and North East Somerset, designed with wildlife and people in mind.

Increasing tree and woodland cover

Increasing tree and woodland cover across our region is an important part of addressing the Climate and Ecological Emergencies that we have declared.

In 2019 we announced an aim to plant 100,000 trees across the district by 2023. With the support of private landowners and partner organisations, including Forest of Avon and Avon Needs Trees, who have completed the first phase of planting at Great Avon Wood, we have come close to meeting this target.

Over 17,000 trees have been planted on council managed land, including in parks, greenspaces, and on our streets. A further 6,500 trees have been planted in private gardens following our tree sale initiative, and 2000 whips were planted by parishes that participated in our Parish Giveaway Scheme.

We have mapped the best opportunities for increasing tree and woodland cover across Bath and North East Somerset, helping us to target future planting and woodland creation in the most appropriate areas. We will also continue to support tree planting ambitions at the Great Avon Wood.

Reducing our pesticide use

We stopped using pesticides containing glyphosate on our streets and pavements in 2021. This followed our declaration of an Ecological Emergency and the concerns of residents about the use of weedkiller.

We only use pesticides in very restricted circumstances, including the treatment of invasive species where needed. We are also exploring more efficient alternatives to digging out and sweeping weeds, such as the use of biodegradable foam or heat-based treatments.

We have published guidance to enable parish and town councils to take action for nature. See our Local Nature Action Plan webpage for more information on how you can get involved.

You can also follow us on social media, and keep up to date with the latest stories on our Newsroom.

Local policy

We have updated biodiversity and green infrastructure policies through the Local Plan Partial Update (LPPU) to support nature’s recovery, including the adoption of a new Biodiversity Net Gain policy.

The LPPU is a first step to new policy-making following the declaration of the Ecological Emergency, and will be followed by additional policy-making as needed through the development of the new Local Plan.

We adopted the newly incorporated Local Plan Partial Update on 19 January 2023. Select a topic below to find out how our LPPU policies are helping to tackle the Ecological Emergency.

Biodiversity Net Gain (policy NE3a)

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is an approach to development that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand.

Our new BNG policy reflects the government’s approach for BNG. It is designed to deliver proportionate and well-considered biodiversity gains before this becomes mandatory through national legislation. This demonstrates our commitment to protecting and enhancing Bath and North East Somerset’s biodiversity.

The new BNG policy came into effect in November 2022, and has been an increasingly important consideration in our decision-making process. It will be given full statutory weight in decisions once we adopt the LPPU.

Building design policy (policy D5)

Policy D5 is one of several development plan policies that seek to protect and enhance nature in Bath and North East Somerset.

Part of the policy (D5e) relates specifically to building and space design and the requirements for new features for wildlife to be designed into new buildings, gardens, and green spaces.

Ecological Networks (policy NE5)

Under policy NE5, development proposals will be expected to demonstrate that a positive contribution will be made to the Nature Recovery Network and to maintaining or creating local ecological networks through habitat creation, protection, enhancement, restoration and/or management.

We are leading the work for developing the Local Nature Recovery Strategy for the West of England, which will progress the Nature Recovery Network mapping.

Ecological Emergency Action Plan

Our Ecological Emergency Action Plan details what we will do to tackle the Ecological Emergency and become nature positive by 2030.

We have also created guidance about the main ways that you can help nature and help to tackle the Ecological Emergency.