The second year’s plantings of new trees is underway in parts of Widnes and Runcorn and should be completed during February.
Last year (2023) saw the first pilot plantings of 3,500 trees and additional shrubs take place and this year there are around 12,000 trees being planted during January and February.
In 2025, the numbers planted are planned to increase significantly again to meet the pledge of 130,000 new trees planted across Halton by 2030. By the end of the programme every ward area of Halton will have seen new tree plantings.
This year’s planting season includes pilot plantings at a range of more diverse sites that include Ormiston Chadwick Academy; Parklands Sports & Social Club; various estates managed by Halton Housing, and other council-owned land such Windmill Hill and Leiria Way.
The purpose of expanding the type of sites is to demonstrate how a wider range of sites can accommodate new tree plantings outside traditional areas like parks and woodlands which will also still see plantings during the lifetime of the Big Halton Forest.
Visiting one site this week, the Council’s lead on Climate Change, Cllr Phil Harris, said: “Last year I said this project will provide the opportunity to innovate, such as new forms of partnership working. The second delivery of sites is now underway and we are now keen to being expanding to more school sites and other sites such as the other social landlord managed estates across the borough.’’
Funding for the Big Halton Forest to date has come from a range of external funding meaning no added burden to local taxpayers. Funding streams have included the Liverpool City Region Environment Fund; the Ineos Environment Fund and the Government’s DEFRA Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund.
Cllr Harris also confirmed discussions are at an advanced stage with The Mersey Forest to help the Council deliver its Big Halton Forest project.
A range of the Council’s policy documents are on timetable to be overhauled during 2024 to help address climate change related issues. These include land use planning and woodland related guidance.
Cllr Harris added: ‘’The re-engagement with the Mersey Forest in particular is a win-win for both organisations. This will lever in significant resources to more rapidly realise the ambitions of The Big Halton Forest.”
Alongside plantings in residential and other traditional areas, developers of housing and commercial sites have also been approached to include more trees in their developments.
For more details on the Big Halton Forest: https://www3.halton.gov.uk/Pages/campaigns/bigforest/index.aspx