‘A superb weapon in the battle against climate change’: Plans to plant one million trees in Northumberland

The government has announced plans for a new Great Northumberland Forest in a bid to tackle climate change.

The planting of a new forest in Northumberland will begin next year.

Great Northumberland Forest will encompass three new areas of woodland, covering 500 hectares with up to a million new trees by 2024. The trees will be of mixed species to encourage biodiversity.

Northumberland MP Guy Opperman has been championing the government plans, which aim to reduce carbon emissions.

‘This is vital for three reasons,’ he told ChronicleLive. ‘It is a superb weapon in the battle against climate change, by the absorption of carbon.

‘It supports timber industries in the longer term, which are crucial to the Northumberland economy. And it improves the green space and the public benefits from employing forestry.’

The planting scheme is among the government’s efforts to cut net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

Other measures include providing £1 billion to boost the production of green technologies in the car industry, updating building regulations so that new homes have fewer carbon emissions and building a fusion power plant.

Environment secretary, Theresa Villiers said the planting of one million trees was ‘fundamental in [the government’s] commitment to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it’.

It is anticipated that farmers will be offered financial incentives for converting their land into woodland, through schemes such as the Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant.

Dorothy Fairburn, of CLA, the organisation for owners of land, rural property and businesses, told Farmers Weekly that planting and managing woodland was one of the most important services landowners could provide to wider society.

But she added that only land deemed suitable for planting trees should be considered under any such initiative.

‘In other words, productive agricultural land should remain just that,’ she said. ‘Similarly, there might be areas that are environmentally sensitive, and where the planting of trees might compromise its diversity.’