Harrogate looks for Boris' support in planting 50 million trees

More than 50 million trees would be planted across northern England under a new initiative.
More than 50 million trees would be planted across northern England under a new initiative.

Harrogate will be among the local authorities lobbying Boris Johnson for support in planting 50 million trees throughout the north of England.

Harrogate leader Richard Cooper joined other Yorkshire leaders in signing the letter addressed to the Prime Minister, in a cross-party move aimed at securing support for the Northern Forest project.

Birthed by the conservation charity the Woodland Trust, the initiative is focused on planting millions of trees in northern England in the coming years, at a time when development and expected population growth in the region looms larger than ever.

In a message to local leaders, Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis and project-backer said the initiative would reduce the risk of flooding as well as locking up millions of tonnes of carbon.

"The Northern Forest would also generate around £2.5 billion worth of social, economic and environmental benefits – at least a five-fold return on investment," he wrote to leaders.

His letter highlights that even though the north of England is home to 13 million people, woodland covers just 7.6 per cent of the region - much lower than the England average.

"Yet 650,000 new homes are planned, with £75 billion of infrastructure already in the pipeline. This is a challenge and an opportunity to reach a balance between development and the environment," Mr Jarvis wrote.

The letter implores Prime Minister Johnson to consider the project during future economic planning for the north, as well as:

- Commit to supporting the delivery of the Northern Forest

- Look at opportunities to enable its delivery, including supporting the development of green investment models, government grants, developer levies and contributions and support from offsetting planned government infrastructure projects

- Visit the region and plant a tree as part of the project

It is planned that the letter will be sent when Parliament returns in September.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter