Natural Capital Census
Decision Maker: Council
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Councillor Tidball left the meeting at this point.
Councillor Gant, having declared a disclosable pecuniary interest, left the meeting for the debate and decision on this motion.
With Council’s agreement the Lord Mayor extended the time for debating motions to the end of this debate and vote.
Councillor Goddard, seconded by Councillor Landell Mills, proposed the submitted motion as set out in the agenda and briefing note.
After debate and on being put to the vote the motion was agreed.
Council resolved to adopt the following motion:
Long-term thinking is key to safeguarding our environment. The creation and introduction of the government’s 25-year environmental plan in 2018 was a welcome step.
Key to the success of the plan is the collection of reliable, consistent data across a range of indicators, from air quality to water quality to urban vegetation, in order to produce a baseline against which progress can be measured. Although vast amounts of data are being collected and analysed, the challenge is to make sure that this is done in a joined-up way using the same methodology and spatial and temporal resolution, at a single point in time, in order to allow meaningful comparison and analysis of variations over time.
In its Sixth Annual Report, the government’s Natural Capital Committee recommends that a comprehensive review of progress against the baseline assets and associated 25-Year Plan goals should be undertaken on a 5-yearly basis to determine direction of change in England’s environment. An Environmental Census will provide the framework and data necessary to ensure that this happens. It will also bring together and harmonise existing datasets to (i) ensure geographical referencing of all records using standard OS grid (ii) ensure date stamping of all records (iii) facilitate open-access. The NCC proposes that the first Environmental Census is undertaken in 2020 to follow the UK’s ‘Year of Green Actions’.
Crucially, mass data collection of this kind cannot be undertaken only by scientists and politicians. The Census will involve the use of novel and emerging technologies (e.g. GIS and Landsat imagery, smart phone apps) and will encourage as wide as participation as possible in collecting data, including citizen scientists, individual landowners and school children.
We believe that Oxford should lead on this vital initiative. Our city can draw a huge resource of commitment and expertise from all its citizens, particularly young people. This Council is uniquely placed to coordinate activity among the many stakeholders in our city who will want to take part. We should set the standard by undertaking now to be part of the Census in 2020. In addition, we should go further by offering to undertake a pilot study.
Council therefore asks the Chief Executive:
1. To maintain contacts with HMG and the NCC and proactively make clear Oxford City Council’s willingness to act as the lead in the proposed Census in our region;
2. To offer additionally to conduct a pilot in advance of the main Census;
3. To open discussions with neighbouring authorities about how best to coordinate action at a regional level.
Report author: Councillor Stephen Goddard
Publication date: 09/08/2019
Date of decision: 22/07/2019
Decided at meeting: 22/07/2019 - Council