NEW Lib Dem Dorset Council leader Nick Ireland has pledged to review policies from the previous Conservative administration which the public said were unpopular during campaigning for the May 2 election.

He has already said that parking charges will be a priority for change.

Cllr Ireland says he will also bring forward proposals to help the county's rich and diverse wildlife after meeting with campaigners outside County Hall on Thursday evening.

The group were calling for better protection for nature – following on from persuading the council to declare a climate and environmental emergency five years ago.

Cllr Ireland says he hopes that proposals for a Nature Emergency he is to bring forward in July will also attract cross-party support, in the same way that the climate and environment resolution did, with only two councillors not voting for it.

Mr Ireland said that the council should and could play a lead role in protecting and enhancing the county’s nature.

“We are leading on the Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) for Dorset, recognising that in Dorset we have some of the country's most important wildlife habitats, including Poole Harbour and large areas of heathland, which support rare and threatened species… One of the seven core values of the Liberal Democrats, the party I represent, is entitled environmentalism and states that: "We value the importance of acting at home and internationally to promote environmentally sustainable means of production and consumption and living in harmony with nature."

The council leader says this could translate into making all Dorset Council-owned farms exemplars for biodiversity and good farming practice, increasing tree planting across the county, including working with partners to increase tree cover and encourage community orchards and allotments on council owned land.

He said he would also press for the Dorset Local Plan, currently being revised, to maximising what can be done to ensure future housing is carbon neutral, cheap to heat and be fitted with structures for birds such as Swifts and for bees.

“I will be putting forward a motion to the next meeting of Dorset Council in July which will seek support from my colleagues across the chamber to declare a Nature Emergency,” he said.

Pics – Campaigners for nature outside Dorset Council’s annual meeting.

Pic – New leader Nick Ireland addresses councillor as leader for the first time.