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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Friday 1 December: Woodland planting scheme, Medway flood scheme and marine plastics

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England’s largest woodland planting scheme gets green light

A picture which shows thousands of trees in a rural landscape taken from above
An aerial picture of trees and fields (photo credit: Doddington North Moor)

There is widespread coverage this morning – including the front page of The Telegraph – following the news that 600,000 new trees are set to be planted at Doddington North Moor – England’s largest woodland planting scheme in 30 years.
With the help of government funding, Doddington North Moor has been given consent by the Forestry Commission to plant a new 350-hectare forest near Wooler in Northumberland.

The forest, which will span the equivalent of over 650 football fields, will help to enhance populations of the iconic red squirrel, while storing over 120,000 tonnes of carbon and helping to manage flood risk in the area. With the forestry and timber processing industry a major employer in the region, the project is also set to bring a boost to local businesses and will generate a number of new jobs.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey welcomed the decision, saying:

Our forests and woodlands are some of our most vital and cherished natural assets, and planting more trees is at the heart of our ambition to protect the environment for future generations.

Doddington North Moor will make a significant contribution to our drive to plant 11 million trees across the nation and is a fantastic example of the kind of tree planting schemes we want to see more of. I hope this will signal a wave of similar projects to come forward and help other landowners realise the benefits of woodland creation.

Launch of the Medway Flood Action Plan

This image shows East Farleigh Bridge from the riverbank
East Farleigh Bridge on the River Medway

Last night Environment Agency Area Manager Julie Foley appeared on BBC South East TV to discuss the Medway Flood Action Plan. The plan outlines how the EA will manage flood risk for 9,000 properties along the River Medway catchment over the next five years, with a 25-year vision to reduce risk to local communities.

Environment Agency Chair Emma Howard-Boyd announced the plan at an event attended by representatives from Kent County Council, South East Rivers Trust, local councils, and other interested groups.

Julie said:

The launch of this plan demonstrates our commitment to finding solutions to manage flood risk. Over the next five years, fully-funded schemes within the Medway Flood Action Plan will reduce the risk of flooding to over 1,700 homes along the River Medway. With our partners, we will also be exploring further opportunities for schemes that help to reduce flood risk and improve the local environment.

You can see the plan and find out more, here.

Single-use plastic waste

Photo of Secretary of State, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has today reiterated his commitment to tackling plastic waste in the seas.

Writing in the Daily Mail, the secretary of state expressed his concern at the problems facing the marine environment, and outlined action being taken.

Today he will host a summit with leading retailers and manufacturers to discuss how single-use plastic waste can be reduced.

A Defra spokesperson said:

We are taking significant steps to tackle plastic waste including plans to introduce a ban on plastic microbeads, taking nine billion plastic bags out of circulation with our carrier bag charge and established a working group to consider further the practical ways in which we can deal with the worst kinds of litter, including plastic bottles.

We recognise there is more to do in this area, and we will be working with industry to explore how we can reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste as part of our resource and waste strategy.

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