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An additional 1,000 new street trees are set to be planted in Southend-on-Sea, as the council’s cabinet looks to develop a new tree policy for the borough.
Senior councillors will discuss their approach to developing a new tree policy for the town and interim arrangements for managing trees until a new policy is adopted.
A commitment to plant 1,000 street trees in Southend over the next three planting seasons, through a one-off investment of £316,850 which would pay for their planting and establishment, will also be discussed next Tuesday, September 17 .
In late July, Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, committed to suspending “non-emergency” tree removals while officers draw up a new tree policy for Southend, to replace the current 2003 policy.
The new policy will reflect the Southend 2050 aspiration of giving residents a sense of “pride and joy” in their hometown while also helping to combat local environmental issues within Southend.
A review of the policies associated with tree management is currently underway, and the council is also undertaking a tree canopy assessment – a tool to help analyse current ‘canopy cover’ across the borough – both of which are anticipated to last until October, followed by a review of the findings of the canopy assessment.
If approved by cabinet, a draft policy will be published on the council website at the end of January 2020 for members of the public to have their say. Following the public consultation period – which is expected to last two months – the new policy is anticipated to be officially adopted in March 2020.
Cllr Mulroney said: “My cabinet colleagues and I are passionate about the environment and recognise the important benefits that trees and other planting have on our air quality, the local street scene and our sense of pride of place.
“Should this report be approved, we will see 1,000 additional trees planted across the borough over the next three planting seasons, which will be in addition to the trees we plant to replace those that unfortunately have to be removed.
“We will adopt a reviewed approach to managing trees, one that further engages the local community in donating and planting and puts the maintenance of existing trees at the heart of what we do.”
“We have listened to local people and their concerns, and we will continue to work with residents and groups to ensure we are delivering our ongoing aim to maintain and enhance tree coverage across the borough.
“The announcement of 1,000 new trees is just the start, and we are also going to enhance and promote our tree donation scheme, and to work with residents, businesses and groups in the borough to increase that number still further.”
The borough already has approximately 28,000 ‘urban trees’ made up of 20,000 recorded street trees and 8,000 trees planted in ‘green corridors’. This number does not include the significant number in our parks, open spaces and woodlands.