Express & Star

Landlocked borough’s ocean motion welcomed by award-winning conservationist

Stafford may be a landlocked borough but its borough council has become one of more than 25 local authorities to back the national Motion for the Ocean campaign.

Emily Cunningham

Measures to protect rivers and oceans were first proposed at Stafford Borough Council in November, before being considered by the authority’s cabinet.

At a full council meeting earlier this year members approved actions including considering the cumulative impact of sewage discharge as part of the new Local Plan for the borough, as well as early engagement with water companies as part of the planning process. The authority is also set to continue working with relevant organisations to ensure local planning policy meets Government requirements.

The support from Stafford Borough Council for the national Motion for the Ocean campaign has been welcomed by an influential environmentalist who hails from the county town. Award-winning conservationist and ocean expert Emily Cunningham, who has been recently named of the UK’s 100 most impactful environmental professionals, is a co-founder of the #Motion4theOcean movement.

She said: “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, benefiting local and coastal communities alike.

“This admirable environmental leadership from SBC councillors recognises that no matter where we live, we impact, and are impacted by, ocean health.

“I’m thrilled to see my home town join our growing movement. I applaud the councillors and look forward to seeing what they achieve together with local partners and our communities.”

Councillor Jack Rose, who proposed the motion to fellow Stafford Borough representatives, said: “Councillors across the political spectrum have regularly heard concerns about the health of local rivers. Unfortunately, our rivers are a cocktail mix of agricultural run-off and human waste from water companies dumping sewage into our watercourses.

“In my village of Great Haywood the river is so polluted that it poses a risk to human health – and residents of Stafford Borough have a right to enjoy our local rivers without that risk. The health of our local rivers also has a direct impact on the health of our nation’s oceans.

“The principal aim of this motion is to closely involve water companies in the planning process so that new developments do not lead to sewage overflow. It also asks for an ecological survey of our local rivers so we know what wildlife is present and how we can protect and enhance what exists."