A year ago, I presented a motion to Shropshire Council calling for a county tree bank. The motion was carried. The idea was to seek a modest financial contribution from everyone who had to remove a tree but could not replace it. This would purchase trees to be given to suitable homes. The motion also asked the council to plant at least one tree for every resident by 2050 – a minimum of 350,000 trees.
During the debate, councillors bemoaned the loss of the council’s popular community tree scheme, which had been dropped due to budget cuts. Now the scheme is coming back though in a different form this year. The council aims to plant 12,500 trees in copses and small areas of native woodland, and existing hedgerows to enhance the landscape and for wildlife value. Details of how to apply are not yet available.
Our green county has lost a lot of hedgerows and a lot of trees in recent decades. At a time when most public authorities have declared a climate emergency, including Shropshire Council and Ludlow Town Council, we must accelerate our efforts to plant trees and protect biodiversity. In September 2019, Shropshire Council agreed a motion written by myself and signed by Lib Dem councillors to plant 345,000 trees across the unitary council area by 2050. That will be one tree for every resident. I also proposed a tree bank scheme to will encourage landowners and householders to pay for two new trees to be planted elsewhere for every tree felled. During the debate, the Speaker asked the cabinet lead on climate change to second the motion, an unusual move and a signal that the Tories wanted to motion to pass. Independent Ioan Jones was the only councillor to vote against the motion.
The tree bank motion has yet to get anywhere. A later motion to plant millions of trees in Shropshire was not supported by councillors.
Motion to Shropshire Council on Trees September 2019
From Councillor Andy Boddington and supported by the Liberal Democrat Group.
Shropshire Council declared a Climate Emergency at its May 2019 meeting. This council supports the work in progress by the council and its partners to reduce its carbon emissions, including the creation of a task and finish group to map the route forward to zero carbon. The formation of a working group does not rule out Council establishing initiatives where there is a clear need to so do in the context of the declared climate emergency.
The role that trees can play in mitigating the increase in atmospheric CO2 and promoting biodiversity is well understood. But this council has not set out a specific ambition for increasing tree cover in the county. This motion declares such an ambition and provides an innovative mechanism for helping achieve it. The mechanism, the Shropshire Tree Bank, recognises that sometimes householders, housing providers, landowners and developers cannot replace felled trees on site but would welcome the opportunity for substitute planting.
Specifically, this council resolves:
1) To declare its ambition to ensure that at least one additional tree is planted in the unitary area for every resident before 2050 – an estimated 345,000 trees.
2) To create a Shropshire Tree Bank. Where a tree is lost without replacement, the council should encourage a voluntary financial contribution towards the Tree Bank, a central pot that will distribute free native saplings each autumn (perhaps in a similar manner to the council’s earlier Free Tree Scheme).
By way of indication, those felling a tree without replacement might be encouraged to pay for two saplings at £5 each. This fee would be more than adequate to cover the cost of the saplings and contribute towards administrative, storage and distribution costs. The scheme might be administered by Shropshire Council or an independent body.
The scheme would initially be open to householders, housing providers and landowners. Scope for opening extending the scheme to developers will need to be considered in the context of the government’s proposals to mandate biodiversity net gain for most developments in the forthcoming Environment Bill.