Council questioned on tree planting and fossil fuel burning

Senior councillors have said plans to plant new trees in Stafford are progressing.

Stafford Borough Council's Civic Centre at Riverside Stafford
Stafford Borough Council's Civic Centre at Riverside Stafford

Stafford Borough Council’s work to control the burning of fossil fuels was also questioned at this month’s full council meeting by a resident.

Members have previously been told a tree strategy is being prepared. Councillor Tony Pearce asked for an update on progress on February 23, saying: “It is perhaps worth noting that the tree planting season for the spring is almost over and that trees play a crucial role in helping to prevent flooding.

“Whilst fully accepting that Covid-19 has caused delays in policy development, it would be helpful if the cabinet member for the environment could give an update on the development of the tree policy and, as a first step, it is suggested that contact is made with the Tree Council to establish a trial tree warden scheme in one of the wards in the borough.”

Councillor Frances Beatty, cabinet member for economic development and planning, said: “The tree strategy is part and parcel of the Local Plan and work is ongoing at the moment. We’ve got specialist arboriculturists looking at the tree strategy, biodiversity and landscape policies in terms of climate change, but also new developments of housing and greening up of the whole of the borough.”

Fellow members highlighted tree planting schemes already planned or taking place in the borough. These include planting at the Isobel Trail to mitigate flooding issues and more trees on borough council-owned land.

Councillor Ann Edgeller said: “In Baswich at the Riverway Link we will be planting 120 trees in the next month or so. Also Councillor Marnie Philips and myself are working on a little planting area in one of the parks. We are conscious about tree planting and we are doing our bit.”

Councillor Carolyn Trowbridge, cabinet member for leisure, said: “Where the Stafford Western Access Route has opened up they’ve planted 581 oak trees and they’re planting thousands of trees along that route – all native trees. They’re working with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and the county ecologist and restoring 8,160 sq m of car park back into marshlands.

Methodology

“At Burleyfields they have just planted hundreds of fruit trees along the walkway. It’s easy to say why aren’t we planting, but if you look in different areas there’s trees being planted.”

Resident Roger Oldfield asked what powers the council had to reduce the threat to health from the burning of fossil fuels and how it was using those powers.

Councillor Jonathan Price, cabinet member for environment, said: “District and borough local authorities have some power to deal with pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels to power factories, homes and vehicles. Stafford Borough Council fully utilises these powers.

“The Environmental Act 1995 Local Air Quality Management sets out a minimum air quality standard to be achieved arising from industrial, domestic and transportation sectors.

"The methodology requires an assessment of the local and regional impacts arising from such activities – and where shown to be necessary declare Air Quality Management Areas.

“Stafford Borough Council fully complies with the air quality standards prescribed and the adoption of air quality management areas has not been required.

“The Clean Air Act 1993 empowers local authorities to take action against industries and residents where smoke arising from the burning of fossil fuels or waste breaches the prescribed standards.

"Stafford Borough Council enforces breaches of the act but has not declared any smoke control areas.”

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