Agenda item

Climate Change

(a) Climate Change and Sustainable Travel


To receive a verbal update.


(b) Update on Environmental Enhancements and Tree Planting Initiatives


To consider the attached report.


(For information: This report has been re-issued from the agenda of the Stronger Place Select Committee meeting of 24 March 2020, which did not take place because of the Covid-19 crisis).


(a)       Climate Change and Sustainable Travel


The Interim Assistant Director (Planning Policy and Implementation) reported that recruitment to both posts had been achieved. The Travel Officer had started on 1 June while the Climate Change Officer would take up this position in September 2020. There was a lot of work to be undertaken around the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC), air quality issues including the draft Mitigation Strategy, as well as building on the post-Covid-19 recovery and safer spaces project.


The Chief Operating Officer, N Dawe, continued that next month the proposal would be developed in more detail and its status would switch from strategy to task.


Councillor A Heap asked about sustainable travel and buses to Epping for the Latton Priory Local Plan site as this would be required. The Interim Assistant Director replied that work had been commissioned on bus provision from Harlow and Epping. Cycling and walking would promote sustainable travel but was not an option for aged people.


(b)       Update on Environmental Enhancements and Tree Planting Initiatives


The Service Director (Commercial and Regulatory) / (Contracts and Technical Services), Q Durrani, explained that this report had been delayed when the last Select Committee meeting on 24 March 2020 had been cancelled because of the Covid-19 lockdown. The report listed the types of work that the Council’s Countrycare Team was involved with. This covered over 3,600 Veteran Trees (trees over 300 years old), plus over 1,200 ‘notable’ trees that weren’t old enough to be classed as veteran yet. The Council also managed around 15,000 public realm trees on open spaces and the public highway, but this did not include woodland. A further 119 semi-mature trees had been planted in safe locations in Chigwell Row and Epping. Tree planting was being organised for the Loughton Recreation area and the Thornwood Nature Reserve this financial year.


The Green Infrastructure Strategy would help to plan and facilitate the integration and expansion of tree planting in the District. Volunteers did a lot of work as did Tree Wardens, who monitored the health of trees. The Essex Forest Project to plant 375,000 trees by 2025 including flood alleviation tree planting schemes was likely to form part of this strategy, as well as the ‘Green Arc’. This was an initiative where London met the countryside (from Thames Chase through to the Lee Valley area) with the aim to plant a million trees. There would also be more tree planting opportunities in the Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANG) being delivered alongside the proposed growth in the District.


Cllr R Bassett was impressed by the number of veteran trees that had survived the hurricane of 1987. He asked if the Council was working with Lee Valley Regional Park and Roding Valley Nature Reserve to bid for some of these trees? The Service Director replied that the Countrycare Team had a close working relationship with officers at the Lee Valley Regional Park and had bid for a £50,000 grant to plant trees. Tree-planting needed to be carefully planned. Integrated green sites would be developed for the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town sites.


Councillor C McCredie praised these initiatives and endorsed the work of the District’s tree wardens.


Councillor S Murray said he lived locally to the nature reserve and Roding Valley Recreation Ground. The latter was managed by Loughton Town Council and this Council’s Grounds Maintenance Team did a very good job. It was used by hundreds of people during the coronavirus crisis. The nature reserve and the Council had a very good partnership. Tree planting had been carried out on the River Roding to reduce erosion. Also, the City of London Corporation (CLC), which looked after Epping Forest, was an important SSSI site because of the huge number of veteran trees.


Councillor J Jennings supported the excellent schemes. The Councillor had planted trees in her own garden, but it also had two ancient trees and natural hawthorn hedges. The Campaign to Protect Rural England supported the use of hedges to catch carbon dioxide emissions, but many hedges had been lost over time. Could hedges be included in some of the environmental enhancement schemes? The Service Director would take this feedback to the Countrycare Team.


Councillor S Heap remarked that this was a good report and that he lived near Lords Bushes where there were some 500 trees in a 50-hectare area. The CLC had been doing a lot of planting. He supported the planting of copses to enhance insect colonies and hoped the Council would fund such schemes.




(1)          That the progress in recruitment and ongoing work on climate change and sustainable travel be noted;


(2)          That the baseline data on Council managed green infrastructure and the potential for future environmental enhancement and tree planting be noted; and


(3)          That opportunities for future tree planting initiatives be explored through the Green Infrastructure Strategy that is in preparation.

Supporting documents: