COMMUNITIES will be given greater powers to stop trees being felled under new plans just announced by environment secretary Michael Gove.
The measures reflect the important role trees in towns and cities play in improving health and wellbeing, as well as providing crucial environmental benefits.
Launching a consultation on a raft of new forestry measures, the secretary of state unveiled proposals designed to ensure local people have a bigger say over what happens to the trees in their communities.
The proposals include making sure communities have their say on whether street trees should be felled with requirements for councils to consult local residents; responsibilities on councils to report on tree felling and replanting to make sure the environment can be safeguarded for future generations; and giving the Forestry Commission more powers to tackle illegal tree felling and strengthen protection of wooded landscapes.
Mr Gove said: “It’s right the views of local people are at the heart of any decision that affects their community – and the futures of the trees that line their streets are no different.
“Trees have often been rooted in our towns and cities for many years, and are undoubtedly part of our local heritage.
“These measures will enhance the protection given to urban trees, ensuring residents are properly consulted before trees are felled and safeguarding our urban environment for future generations.”
Forestry Commission director of forest services Richard Greenhouse said: “The Forestry Commission recognises our trees and woodlands are under increasing pressure, especially in and around urban areas. With this consultation, we hope to be able to better protect more of our cherished woodlands from illegal felling.
“This consultation forms part of the government’s ongoing work to protect and promote precious trees, including a commitment to plant one million trees in towns and cities across the country, in addition to 11 million trees nationwide over the course of this parliament as part of a 25-year environment plan.”