Wepre Park Management plan and charging
- Meeting of Environment & Economy Overview & Scrutiny Committee, Tuesday, 7th February, 2023 10.00 am (Item 56.)
- View the background to item 56.
That Members endorse the new 5-year management plan for Wepre Park.
The Chief Officer (Planning Environment & Economy) introduced the report and confirmed that the Urban Tree and Woodland Strategy was adopted in 2018 to assist with tree planting and increasing tree canopy cover. The Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) continued saying the Urban Tree and Woodland Strategy was established to provide an increase in canopy cover and ensure the sustainable management of trees, highlighting the benefits that trees provided to residents within Flintshire. He outlined the targets set for increasing canopy cover from 14.5% to 18% by 2033. Natural Resources Wales carry out the canopy cover assessment, although this had not been reviewed since 2018 so up to date information was not available at present.
The Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) reported that in recent years, tree planting had taken place on sites identified within the county utilising funding from Welsh Government Woodland Improvement Grant and the Local Nature for Places Grant. He outlined how the canopy cover had been increased with well-planned tree schemes, ensuring the aftercare was in place, with local communities involved, to ensure the survival of the trees. The Service Manger (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) outlined the process involved to ensure these planting projects were successful. Over 23,000 trees had been planted over the last 4 years and the Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) commended his team for their hard work to enable this to happen. Engagement with communities was key to this and he provided story map of tree planting projects across the county which highlighted the work undertaken.
The Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) then provided information on the proposed development of a Flintshire Forest. It was suggested that a Flintshire Forest could mirror the direction of National Forest from Welsh Government (WG). He outlined the objectives for creating areas of new woodland, spaces for leisure and nature, capturing and storing carbon as well as providing timber. There would be a need to align the key objectives from the Urban Tree and Woodland Strategy and the Flintshire Forest. He referred members to the framework at 1.11 in the report and provided an overview of the key elements, vision and engagement with the public.
In response to a question from Councillor Roy Wakelam on the protection of existing older trees, the Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) outlined the mechanisms such as Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) and planning conditions. He referred to public consultations undertaken in advance of planting projects and some resistance to tree planting which had been received, he said public engagement to highlight the benefits of trees as well as ensuring the right trees were planted was key to their ongoing protection. The promotion of good tree planting with the correct trees planted in new developments would ensure better outcomes. Referring to losses of tree he confirmed that approximately 1,000 trees had been lost due to Ash dieback over the winter on highways but more trees were being planting to replace these. This work was critical.
In response to questions from Councillor Dan Rose the Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) firstly responded to the success of the 23,000 trees planted point and said that there was roughly a 20% failure for small whips with maximum care taken to ensure the survival of the larger standard trees. During the drought last year with 5,000 trees planted at Wepre Park it was not possible to ensure all trees survived. This year the whips which were lost were being replaced.
Responding to the mulch from felled trees point the Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) confirmed this was already used for keeping moisture in the grounds and preventing weeds on standard trees and hedgerows. He also confirmed that work had been undertaken on carbon sequestration on sites across the county to ensure tree planting did not disturb or disrupt an established environment.
In response to the records point the Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) confirmed that records were kept of species and orchards planted and provided information on the tree days and apple juice sessions held using fruit from heritage variety fruit trees.
In response to the question on protection of new areas of planting the Chief Officer (Planning Environment & Economy) said the areas under review were on Flintshire land and as landowners would be protected. If development occurs next to the council’s land assessments would be undertaken to ensure that the trees would not be affected.
The Chair referred to the Local Development Plan (LDP) and asked if there was a way of insisting that Developers included more established trees in their plans. The Chief Officer (Planning Environment & Economy) said this was not for every site but that the Development Management Team should consider this when assessing potential impacts on site.
Responding to questions from Councillor Mike Peers, the Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) firstly referred to the forest question. He confirmed that public engagement was undertaken in areas being considered for tree planning. All proposed trees planting to increase canopy cover, would include a survey of the ground conditions, settings and existing trees before deciding on what type of tree to plant. Trees with thorns or poisonous berries for example, would not be considered in a school environment.
Responding to the green corridor question from the Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Economy, the Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) explained that tree planting and woodlands would not be planted in isolation. There were constraints regarding available land and its connectivity to the wider environment but landowners were engaged in this process.
Responding to a question from Councillor Dan Rose, the Service Manager (Countryside Access and Natural Environment) outlined the collaborative work undertaken over several years with the partners within the Public Services Board. This had enabled the mapping of green assets within the county with several successful smaller projects. The position regarding landowners was different in terms of funding but that there were options.
The recommendations within in the report were moved and seconded by Councillors Mike Peers and Ian Hodge.
That Members endorse the new 5-year management plan for Wepre Park.
- Wepre Park Management plan and charging, item 56. PDF 106 KB
- Enc. 1 for Wepre Park Management plan, item 56. PDF 6 MB
- Enc. 2 for Wepre Park Management plan, item 56. PDF 328 KB
- Enc. 3 for Wepre Park Management plan, item 56. PDF 116 KB