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Emma Oldham named in UK's Top 50 Political Change-Makers


Emma Oldham, the councillor behind Newark and Sherwood's Motion for the Ocean has been named one of the top political change-makers in the UK for her contributions to environmental causes.

The ENDS Report's Top 50 Power List for 2024 recognises “unsung heroes” for their work on key environmental issues, including air quality, water pollution, net zero, nutrient neutrality, and biodiversity net gain.

As the Portfolio Holder for Biodiversity and Environmental Services at Newark and Sherwood District Council, Independent, Cllr Emma Oldham has been selected for this prestigious list due to her unwavering commitment and significant contributions to environmental causes within the community, all achieved within just her first year in office.

This year, in light of the upcoming general election and the conclusion of a five-year parliament, ENDS has included 50 politicians to recognise their vital contributions to environmental policy and action.

Cllr Emma Oldham's inclusion on this esteemed list underscores her dedication to tackling critical environmental issues, particularly in protecting and enhancing green spaces, safeguarding waterways, and inspiring various sectors to incorporate nature recovery within their corporate goals.

In her listing, ENDS reports, “She has been described by a supporter as “one of the most passionate and selfless conservationists I have ever met”. Within just eight months of being elected to the council, Oldham developed a new portfolio position which focused on protecting and enhancing the district's biodiversity and deepening community engagement with its greenspaces and wildlife.

Described by another supporter as an “environmental powerhouse”, Oldham also passed a 'Motion to the Ocean' policy at full council which gained unanimous support, paving the way for stronger action, stewardship and citizen engagement around protecting and enhancing waterway health in the region.

Emma has set up a biodiversity focus group, bringing together leaders in nature conservation across the district to plan collaborative efforts and support long-term conservation and biodiversity initiatives within the district.

As a member of the planning committee, Cllr Oldham champions the protection of natural landscapes. She consistently challenges harmful developments and advocates for stronger conditions in planning applications to benefit biodiversity.

Her dedication to connecting youth with wildlife is evident in her donation of bird boxes to all primary schools ahead of the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. Additionally, she secured a partnership with Newark College, engaging construction students to design and create bat boxes for district-wide use. Cllr Oldham and her colleagues will soon launch an anti-idling campaign in all district schools, aiming to protect children's health and improve air quality.

Cllr Oldham's influence on the Community Plan has ensured a strong focus on enhancing access to nature, developing climate adaptation strategies, and monitoring biodiversity. Her contributions have been crucial to achieving the plan's objectives.

Through community talks, Cllr Oldham engages with groups, parishes, schools, and residents to share NSDC's new environmental vision and inspire local action. Her team has initiated projects including community orchards, river restoration, and mass tree planting, benefiting the environment and the community's connection to nature.

The ENDS Power List celebrates individuals' positive contributions to environmental causes, regardless of political affiliation. Politicians like Cllr Emma Oldham exemplifly how elected officials can leverage their positions to drive substantial environmental change.

Emma is the author of The Whale Who Disappeared, a children's book about a young girl who starts a campaign to save the seas.

Inspired by the work of Rewilding Britain and the charity COAST on the Isle of Arran, The Whale Who Disappeared is an uplifting story of hope – and shows how determined action, even from the very young, can unite communities, and help save the planet.

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