York Council to buy 150 acres of agricultural land for new forest.

Refuses to reveal location but cost will be £1.65 million!

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In one of the most bizarre proposals to come before the York Council, officials are recommending buying agricultural land “within the York boundary” which will subsequently be planted with trees. It says only that it is located in the Green Belt.

The forest scheme is intended to offset a proportion of the CO2 emissions generated within the City.

The Council says it can’t reveal the location of the new forest “for commercial reasons”.

While many residents will support the objective of the initiative, the lack of background information on the scheme is extraordinary.

There is no indication of the grade of the agricultural land in question. At a time when greater food self sufficiency is a high priority for the country, relative priorities must surely be fully evaluated before productive land is lost?

The report also says that the new forest – which might be designated as a “stray” – will provide new accessible paths and trails for York residents.

Officials point to the health benefits of greater exercise.

They are right, of course, as we have seen during lock-down. But the Council’s position lacks credibility as it has failed to maintain existing paths and trails, some of which are now inaccessible because of neglect.

The absence of any maintenance and management strategy for any new wood is one of the major omissions from the report.

The Council also quotes (rightly) the need to encourage pollinators (bees and other insects) but again fails to evaluate the effect that planting more woodland would have against providing – for example – wildflower meadows on the land.

In total the Council expects to spend £3 million on establishing new woodland and strays around the City.

It will need to do a lot more work, if taxpayers are to be convinced that this is an effective, and thoroughly thought through, reaction to the global conservation challenge.

NB. In the Westfield area, local Councillors promised 12 months ago to promote the adoption of “stray” status for Acomb Moor. There has been no recent update on the progress that they have made.

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