I made the mistake of looking up the weather forecast for the local elections on Thursday the 6th of May and was informed I have a 70% chance of trudging to a school hall in the rain to be handed a form by a kindly masked volunteer, before voting for a candidate I don’t really know, in a democratic exercise that feels a bit comical.
Isn’t that what a lot of us feel? That local elections just allow people to obsess over trivial local minutiae and rubbish collections whilst our letterboxes fill with glossy leaflets of councillors dourly pointing at potholes?
We work here at the Trust on big issues, those of the climate emergency, the ecological crisis, of declining nature and working to restore species to empty landscapes that still remember the thrum of abundant wildlife. In a year of global summits and superpower negotiations over climate change we also have a monumental opportunity to influence local decision makers this year – the largest ever series of local elections in history.
Surprisingly enough, your choices in this election really do impact more than traffic calming measures, you have the choice on Thursday to vote for people with the power to restore nature!
These councillor candidates asking for your vote on Thursday will decide whether the local plan for development near you will protect or destroy nature sites, whether the council will help to join up fragmented habitats or permit poorly thought through development that forever splits natural landscapes in half. They decide whether roadsides will hum with pollinating bees or will be stripped back and doused with pesticides and whether your community is more resilient to climate change.
Most importantly your local councillor has the power to declare an ‘ecological emergency’, a public policy declaration that local government will marshal all their energy to restore nature, use natural solutions to the climate crisis like seagrass, wildflower meadow and tree-planting to make your local area resilient to extremes of flooding, heat and drought.
I will trudge through the puddles with pride and passion on Thursday because my vote contains the possibility of restoring nature across my county and local area.
That isn’t comical, it feels powerful.