The Committee considered a report by the Head of Environmental Enhancement (circulated previously) regarding the new woodland at Frankmarsh, Barnstaple.
The Parks Officer highlighted the following:
· The Council purchased 18ha of farmland and existing mature woodland adjacent to the existing Yeo Valley Community Woodland in June 2020 following a report by the Head of Resources and Corporate Property to Strategy and Resources dated 2nd December 2019, Acquisition of Corporate Property.
· The Forestry Commission awarded funding to North Devon Council in April 2022 to plant approximately 24,000 trees on the land. The funding had come through the “England Woodland Creation Offer” funding stream and was worth £211,000.
· The new woodland was primarily designed to absorb CO2 and calculations indicate approximately 3500 tonnes would be sequestered over the next 100 years helping to offset some of the Council’s carbon emissions. The scheme would be monitored through the Woodland Carbon Code. The new woodland would also offer informal recreation and biodiversity improvements.
· Infrastructure for the woodland would be installed from September 2022 and planting would commence at the end of 2022. The council had two years from the date of the agreement to plant the trees, although it was hoped to complete all the planting over the winter of 2022/ 2023.
· The funding would pay for capital costs i.e. the deer fencing around the site, the supply and planting of the trees and a contribution towards a surfaced path through the site. Additional contributions were paid for public access, being close to a settlement, water quality improvements and nature recovery benefits.
· The scheme also offered maintenance payments over a 10 year period for the establishment of the trees.
· Capital items were claimed retrospectively each year.
· It was hoped to encourage the community to participate in the planting with the Parks team, operating through a contractor funded through the external grant, contacting schools, colleges and community groups to take part over the winter. Contractors and in House staff would complete any planting not undertaken by volunteers.
· Tree species had been selected that would adapt and grow in a changing climate.
· Trees planted before the 20th December 2022 could be included in the Queen’s Green Canopy.
· The anticipated capital cost of the project was £164,631 (there was already £101,000 within the existing Capital Programme and this report was increasing the budget up to £164,631) and would be fully funded from the external grant. There would also be 10 years of annual maintenance payments totalling £46,560 which again would be fully funded from the external grant.
The Committee welcomed the scheme and were very supportive of the potential for involvement of schools, colleges and community groups together with the inclusion of wildflower planting and its carbon benefits.
In response to questions from the Committee, the Parks Officer advised the following:
· The scheme would be fully funded by grants from the forestry commission with the exception of the deer fencing and deer leap, which was being funding separately.
· There would be a mixture of trees on the site with 90% being hardwood as it had ecological site classification, the tree species was selected based on the potential climate conditions in 50-60 years’ time. With 10% of the woodland being conifer for address the carbon requirement.
In response to a question, the Parks Officers advised that rabbit fencing would also be included as part of the scheme.
(a) the contents of the report be noted;
(b) Council vary the Capital Programme by £63,631 as set out in section 5.1 of the report and that funds be released.