The York Council concludes its consultation, on the layout of the new forest planned for agricultural land near Knapton, on 19th May.
The plans continue to be semi detached from economic realities with the options being presented to residents lacking proper costings or identified sources of funding.
A report published in December 2020 (click) promised that funding streams would be identified before commitments were made. Such information as is available is apparently being presented only to “behind closed doors” project board meetings.
Added to the initial failure to produce a food production vs afforestation environmental appraisal, this is an unsatisfactory situation
Residents are still waiting to hear an updates on a promised second – urban – wood that the Council announced 18 months ago.
It was said to be located near to the inner ring road. Such a site would be hugely expensive although the Council has, very recently, agreed to purchase land between the railway line and the river in the Leeman Road area.
Hopes that community woodland would be provided on land located between the built up area and the ring road/A1237, seem to be fading.
This would have provided genuinely accessible local green space – the lack of which in some areas became very apparent during the recent lockdown.
Some tree planting, as part of the dualling of part of the A1237, has been promised.
The York Council is urging residents to plant at least one additional tree in their garden, allotment “or park”.
Well, last autumn – following consultation with the Council – volunteers did just that in Dickson park in the Foxwood area.
Four months later, a Council early morning “hit squad” arrived and chopped down eight of the trees.
The local residents association is up in arms over the action.
They point out, in a formal complaint to the Council (to which there has, so far, been no response), that two of the trees that were removed had been memorialised as a mark of respect to relatives who had passed.
Residents are asking for the two trees to be reinstated immediately with the other six to be replaced following further consultation on siting, species etc.
Rather too much posturing going on in parts of the York Council these days we think!
The Council’s media release reads.
“York’s Tree Canopy to expand for next 30 years.
City of York Council’s Climate Change Policy and Scrutiny Committee have proposed to expand York’s tree canopy to achieve 13% coverage by 2050, approximately increasing tree population by 10,000/year.
A report will be taken to a Decision Session for the Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change on 5 May 2021. It proposes to Increase York’s tree cover from the current 10.76% of total area to13% (national average) by 2050, as the council creates a greener, cleaner city for its residents and visitors.
This expansion will be around 22-27 hectares each year which equates to an area of over 30 football pitches. Alternatively, the city would be well on its way to reaching this expansion target if every household in York which had space, either in a garden, allotment or park, planted just one tree.
The target would result in more carbon dioxide (CO2) being removed from the atmosphere and stored in the trees. This absorbing of the harmful pollutant across the city is equivalent to around 1% of the regions total CO2 emissions between 2020-2050.
Achieving 21 hectares of tree planting every year in York would result in the annual removal of 1-2% of the estimated regional emissions in 2038, after most of our carbon-neutral initiatives have been implemented. This would increase to remove 8-15% of remaining emissions in 2050.
This initiative forms one of the many priorities which will contribute to the city’s Climate Change Strategy which will be published this Autumn, and is one of the many tactics being implemented to achieve city-wide carbon neutrality by 2030.
Cllr Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for Climate Change said;
“To become a carbon neutral city we need to make the most of every tool at our disposal and I’m pleased to see that the expansion of our city’s Tree Canopy will help us catch up to the national average and contribute to our goal to make our city’s carbon emissions net-zero by 2030.
“The ever changing landscape of York offers us the opportunity to reduce the CO2 in our atmosphere as well as to create a healthier and happier environment that we can all enjoy. Increasing the biodiversity of our city is a key priority in our response to the Climate Emergency and this also contributes to our management of flood risks, use of public space and creation of green jobs across the city.”
As a member of the White Rose Forest Partnership, a local authority joint venture hosted by Kirklees Council, City of York Council is working to:
increase tree coverage across York
improve access to green space for citizens
enhance wildlife habitats and biodiversity
address climate change through carbon sequestration (or absorption) “
City of York Council says it is “seeking the views of residents and local organisations on its plans to create an extensive community woodland area near Knapton”.
The project got off to a poor startwith behind closed doors decisions eventually committing the Council to purchase farming land valued at around £2 million for the forest.
No business case was ever presented which compared the financial and environmental benefits of a forest with the existing food production use or indeed more obvious uses in support of environmental challenges.
The survey includes questions on the 194-acres of land to the West of York, including “suggesting a name for the new area“, which sounds slightly patronising to us. The important decisions have already been taken but if you think that Knapton Wood should be called Sherwood Forest North then please let us know!
The council says, “As part of its commitment to creating a cleaner, greener city and its ambitious target of reaching net zero carbon by 2030, the council plans to plant 50,000 trees on the site by the spring of 2023. As well as acting as a ‘carbon sink’, the green space will boost the health and mental wellbeing of local people by giving them somewhere to exercise, spend time outdoors in nature and a place for quiet contemplation. It will be an important wildlife habitat, enhancing biodiversity in York, as well as creating new green jobs and volunteering opportunities, helping to boost the development of green skills”.
In recent months the council has completed a detailed land character assessment to explore the site’s existing flora and fauna, landscape, soil types, drainage features and access points. This process has given the council a good understanding of the opportunities and constraints presented by the site, and helped to shape a series of different design concepts showing how the woodland could look.
Residents are now being asked to share their views on the design concepts so that their feedback can help shape the council’s plans for the site, as well as offer an insight into the role that residents and local groups can play in its creation and ongoing management. As a part of the consultation, residents are also invited to suggest possible names for the new woodland that reflect the heritage of the local area and tie in with the project’s ambitions.
We seem to have a blight of fly tipped mattresses in west York.
We reported one that had been dumped behind the railings on the Kingsway West/Green Lane snicket a few weeks ago. It’s still there as the Council claim that it is on “private land”. It’s actually on land that has traditionally been maintained by an internal drainage board. The authorities need to come to an agreement on how the “public realm” will be kept tidy in future.
Elsewhere a mattress appeared on Foxwood Park and was subsequently set on fire.
And another has been duimped on the Chapelfields Road – Wetherby Road snicket.
We think that it is about time manufacturers to come up with an accessible recycling system for bulky items like these.
The City of York Council says that it is taking action to make York more pollinator friendly.
There are over 4,000 species of insects in the UK that carry out pollination of our native wild plants and food crops, but they are under threat and in decline due to habitat loss and excessive pesticide use.
The council wants to introduce a new Pollinator Strategy so that it can ensure local residents, businesses and landowners are provided with information to help protect and increase pollinators.
Insects like bumblebees, butterflies and beetles all provide a vital part in pollination of our native wild plants and our food crops, ensuring the protection of our city’s biodiversity.
The new strategy aims to protect, increase and enhance the amount of pollinator habitats on council owned or managed land, and help to improve the status of any locally threatened species.
The most significant factors leading to these declines in pollinator numbers includes habitat loss (food, shelter and nesting), pesticides which have harmful effects on honeybees, wild bees and butterflies and climate change, which has long term effects.
The Council’s initiative is welcomed. In particular, the the commitment to neighbourhood input into initiatives.
What is lacking in the the document is a recognition that much of the solution to the lack of pollinator attractive plants can only be addressed by the more thoughtful use of privately owned land.
In particular, more can be done in peoples gardens.
A ready source of advice, and a proactive approach to publicity, is needed from the York Council.
If approved, the council will adopt the new Pollinator Strategy and ensure the needs of pollinators are represented in local plans, policy and guidance – to help us all protect and increase pollinators.
The strategy will be taken to an Executive meeting for approval on Thursday 18 March from 5.30pm and will be available to watch online afterwards.
City of York Council have been awarded £297,237 by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The funding will enable to council to carry out a feasibility study and subsequent pilot scheme to reduce emissions relating to deliveries travelling in to and out of York.
29 local authorities across England have been granted more than £5 million from the government’s Air Quality Grant to deliver innovative projects to improve air quality and reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health.
The project will focus on how to reduce the number of deliveries made to the city centre and around York by LGVS and HGVs (such as small vans or larger heavy goods vehicles). A study will identify suitable sustainable alternatives which may include a delivery ‘hub’ allowing the last or first mile of the journey to be made by low emission modes, including e-cargo bikes. The project will aim to reduce both the overall number of vehicles undertaking deliveries and emissions from the remaining fleet. The council will be engaging with businesses, including delivery companies, on the study and pilot scheme.
There are five key areas for air quality improvement around York’s inner ring road which are included in York’s Air Quality Management Area(AQMA). This project has the potential to reduce NOx emissions in all these areas and across the wider district. The new project will also reduce emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) which is known to be the pollutant of greatest harm to human health. As well as improving local air quality the project will also help to reduce CO2 emissions to help achieve our Net-Zero targets.
The project will assist in delivering the following action points in York’s current Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3): 5 (reducing emissions from freight); 11 (Local incentives for low emission vehicles and alternative fuel use); 12 (Attracting low emission industries, business and jobs to York).
The project’s benefits could be realised further afield than the city centre. Depending on the final location of the pilot project, the scheme may also help to address LGV and HGV emissions to neighbouring districts.