TAUNTON Town Council unanimously voted to declare a climate and ecological emergency at its first meeting yesterday (Tuesday, June 13).

The motion proposed by Cllr Caroline Ellis noted that “human-caused climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying with global warming on track to reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial averages by the early 2030s”, with “those most disadvantaged are being hit the hardest”.

It added: "Almost half of all UK wildlife is in long term decline and 15 per cent of species are at risk of extinction.”

The council will embed a “commitment to climate change mitigation and nature recovery” throughout all strategies, service and policy areas, communications, community engagement work and decision-making processes.

Cllr Ellis said: "There is still a window of opportunity to make the changes needed to create a liveable future.

“We are the level of government closest to the people – we could make a huge difference, adding value to the hard work of so many green initiatives already running across our town.

“We will now start work on creating an action plan in partnership with our communities, focusing on things which will make life better for our residents in the here and now as well as the things that will sustain us in years to come.

“For example, setting up or supporting a ‘Share Library’ would help cut emissions from consumption and give people an affordable way to access the resources they need.

“Identifying more land for allotments to meet growing demand would give more people access to fresh fruit and veg, saving themselves money and reducing food-related emissions.

“Supporting community gardening would improve mental health and boost biodiversity."

Cllr Tom Deakin, LibDem leader of the council said: “Our team’s first task has been getting the new council successfully up and running, with a robust budget agreed with cross party support, and ensuring key services are being delivered for local townspeople.

“With that done, it is absolutely right that we now deliver on our promise to make the environment, and the emergency facing our planet, our first major policy decision."

One of the new town council’s first eco-friendly moves will be to purchase an electric vehicle for use by its town warden.