County council asked to support saplings plan

Essex County Council (ECC) is being asked to help tree planting schemes across the county – including Chelmsford City Council’s “ambitious” plans to plant 150,000 saplings in ten years.

Councillor Jude Deakin will ask ECC at next week’s full council meeting to make available “suitable green spaces in its ownership for tree planting” as part of a wider plan to move the city to a zero carbon authority and reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

The city and county councillor said: “From a council point of view we want to identify places that are in the public realm that are suitable for planting.”

She said that John Shennan playing field in Chelmsford, which is now out of the local plan, could be an ideal place to plant a small number of trees, as well as patches in residential streets and private gardens.

She said: “There are lots of national trees that are smaller and  suitable for gardens. That’s where the Woodlands Trust come in.

“They can identify species suitable for your place.

“Woodland Trust will provide a tree if people request it and they have a  suitable planting area.”

Tree planting season is generally mid November to late March, when trees are dormant.

“We might get suggestions that there is somewhere at the end of the street which possibly belongs to Essex County Council,” added Cllr Deakin.

“We do envisage planting mighty oaks as well as smaller species that are more suitable for smaller spaces like a flowering cherry.”

Her motion to ECC asks the council to work closely with district councils to identify places to plant to help those councils with plans to work with residents for tree planting.

“Local Government has a critical role to play in an effective and just transition to a zero carbon Britain,” says the motion.

“Many of the solutions are best tackled locally with cities, towns and rural communities working together.

“A part of that solution is to embark on an ambitious programme of tree planting, similar to that proposed by Chelmsford City Council.

“This would, over a ten-year period, mean that a tree would be planted for every resident in Chelmsford.

“This council therefore calls upon the Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste to support Chelmsford and any other Essex councils with similar ambitions, by making available suitable green spaces in its ownership for tree planting.

“Not only will this help reduce carbon in the atmosphere, as trees fix carbon in living biomass and soils for decades, but it will enhance the landscape, townscape and create habitat for wildlife.”

She said a lot of land councils may identify as being suitable for tree planting may well belong to ECC.

“Essex do have their own scheme but it is not as intense as what we would like to do in Chelmsford,” she added.

“We are very ambitious to get one tree planting for every resident. That’s an abolute goal.

“We don’t have the funding to provide everyone with a tree. We don’t have the funding but we do have links with other organisations like the Woodland Trust who are set up for just that purpose.

“If they are working with us that will be counted as part of our target.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter