- Meeting of Cabinet, Tuesday, 16th February, 2021 10.00 am (Item 15.)
- View the background to item 15.
Cabinet received a report which outlined the steps that have been taken to date to scope out the options and feasibility of large scale tree and woodland planting of approximately 543,000 trees on land owned by the Council.
i) That the progress made with respect to options to facilitate planting of over 500,000 trees on Buckinghamshire Council land holdings be noted;
ii) To progress the production of more detailed woodland creation and project plans for the first phase sites, notably with the aim that, subject to approval of detailed costing and procurement they are delivered within the next planting season; and
iii) That the overall ambition of the 10 year large scale tree planting programme be agreed noting the phasing of sites, i.e. Phase 1 (sites delivered next planting season), Phase 2 (sites delivered in 2-5 years) and Phase 3 (sites that would be delivered in 5-10 years) noting that sites are subject of change and refinement as the programme develops.
B Chapple, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, introduced the report and outlined the steps that had been taken to date to scope out the options and feasibility of large scale tree and woodland planting of approximately 543,000 trees on land owned by the Council. The ambition was to create a scheme where one tree can be planted for every citizen of Buckinghamshire which would in part contribute to the wider ambition in addressing climate change and becoming carbon neutral by 2050 or earlier. The report focussed on the options for large scale planting on Buckinghamshire Council land holdings only, primarily utilising the agricultural estate.
The Government’s 25 Environment Plan and associated draft England Woodland Strategy had a national target to plant 30,000 hectares of new woodland in the UK every year – nearly a million hectares by 2050. To highlight the scale of the challenge this was equivalent to a space about three-quarters the size of the Isle of Wight every year. Last year, the UK had planted just 13,400 hectares of woodland. Woodland cover needed to increase from 13 per cent to 17 per cent – the equivalent of 1.5 billion new trees.
The government had created a £640m ‘Nature for Climate’ fund to help support in part its tree-planting commitment the full details of which had not been announced. Nature based climate solutions were a critical part of the package of measures to reduce the Country’s emissions to net zero. Indeed the government had recently opened the Woodland Carbon Guarantee that aimed to help accelerate woodland planting rates and develop the domestic market for woodland carbon for the permanent removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The scheme enabled you to sell your captured carbon in the form of verified carbon credits, called Woodland Carbon Units (WCUs), to the government for a guaranteed price.
The report included information on the Woodland Carbon Code and how new native woodland captured CO2 and examples of the difference that the tree planting would on Buckinghamshire. Planting trees also provided numerous benefits in additional to capturing carbon e.g. improving air quality, flood mitigation, improving water quality, improving public health & wellbeing, creating suitable habitats for wildlife, reducing soil erosion and sedimentation, enhance recreation opportunities and making a significant contribution to the local economy.
The report also included information on the underlying principles for tree planting (right tree, right place, with a plan) and the project approach undertaken by a team that consisted of representatives from Property, Country Parks, Environment and the Forestry Commission.
The suggested suitable sites for large scale tree planting then gone through a series of sense checking from Buckinghamshire Council technical teams from both an environment and property perspective. Carter Jonas had then been commissioned to undertake the following tasks:
- Task 1: Comment on/suggest delivery model for large scale tree planting.
- Task 2: Calculate how 543,000 trees could be planted on the farms and other landholdings identified for these trees; create an initial business plan cost for regaining land from farm tenancies.
- Task 3: Identify an initial tranche of sites for tree planting.
- Task 4: Review Forestry Commission identified holdings. Comment on the suitability of selected sites and make recommendations.
The Carter Jonas report indicated that sufficient land can be identified from the Council’s land holdings, primarily from within the agricultural estate, to accommodate the planting of 543,000 trees. It was also noted that the existing important tree planting commitments i.e. parks, open space and amenity areas, will be undertaken as planned during this and future planting seasons.
Members were informed that the confidential appendix to the agenda included specifics of potential land for tree planting. However, as discussions had not been held with landowners for some of these sites it would not be appropriate to discuss the details in public.
Cabinet sought additional information and were informed:-
· That it was planned for the plantings to be native broadleaf woodlands, with the areas accessible to the public where possible.
· That agreement had been reached with Transport for Bucks to undertake replacement tree planting when existing trees needed to be removed from highway verges i.e. if they were diseased or dangerous.
· That discussion were taking place to have a woodland area dedicated to Covid victims.
1) That the progress made with respect to options to facilitate planting of over 500,000 trees on Buckinghamshire Council land holdings be noted;
2) To progress the production of more detailed woodland creation and project plans for the first phase sites, notably with the aim that, subject to approval of detailed costing and procurement they are delivered within the next planting season; and
3) That the overall ambition of the 10 year large scale tree planting programme be agreed noting the phasing of sites, i.e. Phase 1 (sites delivered next planting season), Phase 2 (sites delivered in 2-5 years) and Phase 3 (sites that would be delivered in 5-10 years) noting that sites are subject of change and refinement as the programme developed.
- Large Scale Tree Planting on Buckinghamshire Council land holding – progress and next steps, item 15. PDF 710 KB