FOI Disclosure Log

Customer Request Details

01 May 2020

This is a request for information under the The Environmental Information Regulations Act 2004. I would like to receive the following information: 

  1. A list of all (or as many major ones that are accessible under compliance limits) tree planting projects that have happened in the area under your jurisdiction since 2015 and any that are planned for the future, which have been acknowledged by the council in official correspondences, strategy documentation or press releases in relation to the council’s carbon reduction strategy. 
  2. Copies of the official correspondences, strategy documentation or press releases covered by part 1. 
  3. A copy of any planning and strategy documents for the projects covered by part 1, which includes details of who is carrying out a project, how much it costs, where it is taking place and the reasons behind it taking place.
  4. Details of any tree-planting projects covered by part 1 that is specifically being used in a carbon offsetting project by the council, where the carbon absorption of trees is being matched with emission of carbon elsewhere. 
  5. Details of any schemes that are in place to ensure the protection of the tree planting projects covered by part 1 - including any guarantees against the risk of them being chopped down, and any guarantees about their being replaced should they die.


East Herts Council Response

02 June 2020

Thank you for your request for information, this has now been processed and the information that we hold is enclosed.

  • This is a request for information under the The Environmental Information Regulations Act 2004. I would like to receive the following information: 
    1. A list of all (or as many major ones that are accessible under compliance limits) tree planting projects that have happened in the area under your jurisdiction since 2015 and any that are planned for the future, which have been acknowledged by the council in official correspondences, strategy documentation or press releases in relation to the council’s carbon reduction strategy. 

The Council has not undertaken any specific tree planting projects over this period but does plant trees as part of an ongoing annual programme.

There has been some reference to the authority’s position on increasing tree cover:

The Council has not committed to any specific percentage increase in tree cover. East Herts as a district currently has approximately 10% tree canopy cover (4,728 ha) although this does not include small wooded areas and sites less than 0.5 ha. On this basis a doubling of tree cover across the wider district would amount to at least 20% woodland cover. This  would mean a significant  land use change and  possibly replacing other biodiversity habitats or open space/agricultural land (including land that is already acting to sequester carbon) with woodland.

    1. Copies of the official correspondences, strategy documentation or press releases covered by part 1. 

As there have been no specific tree planting projects, there is no correspondence, documentation or press releases to provide.

    1. A copy of any planning and strategy documents for the projects covered by part 1, which includes details of who is carrying out a project, how much it costs, where it is taking place and the reasons behind it taking place.

See response to Q2

    1. Details of any tree-planting projects covered by part 1 that is specifically being used in a carbon offsetting project by the council, where the carbon absorption of trees is being matched with emission of carbon elsewhere. 

See response to Q2

    1. Details of any schemes that are in place to ensure the protection of the tree planting projects covered by part 1 - including any guarantees against the risk of them being chopped down, and any guarantees about their being replaced should they die.

See response to Q2

 

•             East Herts is proud of the work it has already undertaken in terms of tree planting and management of our open spaces. Indeed over the last few years, through our Greenspace Action Plans, we have already undertaken considerable planting programmes in our open spaces, whilst at the same time attempting to maintain a balance to allow the continued multi-purpose use of these areas.  In fact we estimate we now have some 70,000 trees in our tree stock. These trees are located in a variety of settings such as woodland copses, hedgerow trees, enclosures around major parks such as Pishiobury Park, a community woodland at Hartham Common, an extension to the woodland at Balls Wood and considerable planting schemes at Southern Country Park.

•             However, as the Council owns very little land it is not possible for us to commit to planting significant new wooded areas ourselves unless some of that land currently used for other leisure purposes is given over to tree planting, which could give rise to negative consequences in terms of open space for recreation/sport/biodiversity. This could potentially even increase carbon emissions if people are required to travel further for their leisure pursuits or if existing areas of land acting as carbon “sinks” are lost.

•             Any trees that are planted are always chosen for their suitability for the site in question including such aspects as size/rate of growth; soil requirements; benefits to wildlife and social amenity value etc. Use of native trees is often prioritised where appropriate.

 

In conclusion the Council firmly recognises the need to work with other partners to encourage them to plant more trees not only for the purpose of carbon capture but also air quality and the general social benefits trees so clearly provide. We therefore expect to work with relevant partners where possible to consider options for planting additional trees on suitable land that they may manage. Importantly we intend to produce a new Supplementary Planning Document on Environmental Sustainability. This is likely to include a section on biodiversity and the importance of tree planting in appropriate locations.

If you have any queries or complaint about the processing of your request please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Alternatively for more information on the Freedom of Information Act contact the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone 0303 123 1113

https://ico.org.uk/

 

It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all correspondence related to this request.

 

Thank you for your request.