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A successful tree planting strategy in urban areas could be extended to include selected sites in rural villages for the first time.


Cabinet is considering expanding Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council’s Urban Tree Planting Strategy – by creating carbon capture areas in built-up, rural locations – during a new phase of the scheme which outlines planting plans at eight provisional sites over theforthcoming winter, subject to formal consultation with residents.


The strategy, launched in 2020, is part of the overarching Sustainable EnvironmentStrategy which focuses on supporting the Council’s ambitious net zero goal across its operations and assets by 2030 – through reducing carbon production and offsetting any residual carbon emissions – as well as helping wildlife to thrive. The Council has since planted 19,604 trees at 27 sites and has facilitated the planting of another 9,995 by the community through its Britain in Bloom “Plant a Bloomin’ Tree” project.


As part of the Cabinet proposals, ward councillors in rural villages would be invited to putforward a list of council-owned sites for possible planting in the future, with up to two rural locations being included in the latest round.


The next phase is being funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund but externalopportunities are being explored to supplement the Council’s resources and residents and businesses can make donations towards particular sites or projects if they wish.


Cllr. David Hutchison, Cabinet member for sustainable environment, said: “The Urban Tree Planting Strategy is a resounding success, with thousands of new trees planted in strategic locations over the past four years, so the idea is to continue bringing forward sites – and widen the scheme out further – to maximise the environmental benefits while the Council continues its carbon neutral journey.


“Trees have the capacity to capture and store vast amounts of harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere: by planting more in busy places, and now potentially built-up rural areas as well, there are much greater gains to be had, including improving local biodiversity across an increased range of sites.


“If sites are designated as carbon capture areas in the emerging Local Plan, this wouldprotect green spaces for future generations.”


Consultation on the phase six planting sites is planned to take place from September 2024.Depending on the outcome, planting could be completed by March 2025.


A dedicated tree planting webpage is available on the Council’s website for more information.


Linked initiatives include planting perennial plants in the town centre as part of a planned reduction in traditional bedding usage and adopting a formal plan of using grasslands in a more environmentally-friendly way.


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