Bid to double tree cover in Stratford district rejected as 'unworkable'

A call to double the number of trees across Stratford district has been dubbed ‘unworkable’ and ‘ill thought out’ by the council’s portfolio holder for climate change.

Lib Dem hopes of doubling Stratford district's tree cover have been rejected by the council's ruling Conservative group

The suggestion was put forward by Stratford District Council’s opposition Liberal Democrat group in December and rejected recently at a cabinet meeting - and the controlling Conservatives were just as vehement in their opposition at last week’s full council meeting.

Cllr Jenny Fradgley’s (Lib Dem, Guildhall) original notice of motion urged the council to set a target to at least double tree canopy cover by 2045 and include that in the South Warwickshire Local Plan. It also asked that bids be prepared to secure external funding.

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But portfolio holder Cllr Ian Shenton (Con, Wootton Wawen) said the cost of such a scheme would be huge and plans were already in place to plant more trees.

He said: “Doubling the tree coverage in Stratford amounts to something like 30 sq miles - the equivalent of an area bigger than Wolverhampton.

“The motion itself is ill thought out in my opinion, both the size and the cost of between £350m and £400m which would be many years of our actual revenue. The motion should be rejected as unworkable.

“We have a proposal coming forward which is a far more sensible and pragmatic approach.”

Cllr Chris Kettle (Con, Bishop’s Itchington) added: “Stratford as a district has more hectarage of woodland than the four other districts of Warwickshire combined. The only neighbouring authority with a higher amount of trees is Cotswolds.

“That doesn’t mean that we can sit on our laurels but we do need to ensure that when we sacrifice land for trees we look at the balance between land, agriculture and tree coverage. Without agricultural land we don’t get food and at the moment we have a very significant issue around food production as a result of activities in Eastern Europe.”

In response, Cllr Fradgley said: “I think it is a duty of any council to look for partnerships to plant as many wild meadows and trees as possible and that means a collaboration between counties, towns, parishes, community groups, forests and parks.

“We are not looking at planting millions of trees in one year, this is a long journey we have to start now for our grandchildren’s sake.”

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