To receive any questions relating to items on the agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Miriam Hadocks from the Tiverton Tree Team stated: I have been very encouraged by the recent actions of this council and its wholehearted response towards the request to declare a climate emergency and to begin to take action on this declaration. By the development of the Devon Carbon Plan at county level and by the recent people’s assembly which more than 60 people attended and the 200 people who marched on the climate strike day all of whom supported a zero carbon Tiverton. Both the assembly and this council have emphasised the need and enthusiasm for extensive tree planting to combat climate change in this town, district and council area. I am encouraged by the emergence of Tiverton Tree Team a voluntary community group and part of ‘Sustainable Tiverton’ of which I am a part, and the large and enthusiastic response that has been received by them in their action to plant thousands of trees in the local area this winter from landowners, individuals, schools and community groups.
Today I am encouraged by Motion 559, brought by Councillor Bob Evans which states that ‘this council agrees to use any and all land within the ownership of the authority that is not suitable for development, for the planting of native British trees’ and also that ‘This council agrees to work alongside community groups and schools whenever possible to encourage community ownership and a sense of place and wellbeing within our communities’
Tiverton Tree team have received a donation of almost 1000 trees to be planted on public and community land and monetary donations to buy more. We have many volunteers to plant them and a vision to develop accessible community woodland, enriching the environment and encouraging local people and groups in planting and aftercare.
Time is of the essence in climate mitigation and we plan to start on National Tree Planting Day on 30th November and continue beyond that date. This offers district residents and this council the opportunity to take immediate positive action on our joint aims. My question therefore is this, will this council act promptly and decisively on their commendable commitment to combatting climate change by taking this opportunity to talk and work with Tiverton Tree Team in the local community to make available enough land in Tiverton and surrounding area’s for publically accessible tree planting projects sufficient for at least 1000 trees or more this November and throughout the winter and will the council with its greater resources commit to donating more trees in addition to the 1000 already donated?
Emily Fitzherbert also from the Tiverton Tree Team stated my question is also related to the same motion about the council planting as many trees as possible on MDDC land. The motion states that land which is not suitable for development should be used for the planting of trees and I was wondering whether it would be possible to define that more precisely, how would you define not suitable for development because technically all land could be suitable for development. My question is how would we define that and can we make it as narrow as possible so that we can find as much land as possible to plant trees on and also within a reasonable timeframe.
Dave Woods stated that inevitably within what we are talking about today is that money is important and I have just come across this recently as a forester. The council has a tree preservation and maintenance policy, clearly defined, but it does say within that there are budget restrictions on how trees maybe replaced or even for tree expansion around Tiverton and trees cost money. So are the Council aware of the Government’s urban tree challenge which has just been announced and if so have they made an expression of interest. It is possible to put forward an expression of interest at this stage for funding next year. I think it’s quite important to be aware of that and I wondered if they are and also would they consider planting more fruit and nut trees as a part of this process because we feel that this is an important way of connecting with the community.
Sally Chapman thanked Cllr Evans for tabling the motion which is very encouraging. My question is regarding Council tenants in council properties and just referring to the improvement to council property policy where council’s tenants can request for alterations and improvements to their properties I am wondering whether within that policy council tenants would be able to request trees to be planted in their garden?
The Cabinet Member for the Environment and Climate Change responded thanking the Tiverton Tree Team for the questions and advising them that the process for the motion as tabled, is for it now to be referred to the Environment Policy Development Group to debate and discuss and to make any recommendations prior to it being referred back to council in due course for a decision. He therefore could not give responses to many of the points raised as these will be the subject of future discussion.
However he did want to provide some reassurance that, firstly, that this council does take its environmental responsibilities seriously and will be actively looking at ways to reduce harmful emissions and support carbon-reduction methods such as tree planting. Secondly, while the council doesn’t have a tree ‘warden’ as such, it will shortly be recruiting for a Tree Officer who advises on quality and standards of trees from a planning and asset management perspective, providing arboricultural advice to the council as needed. He didn’t think the council had any involvement with the Tiverton Tree Team directly and that there were a large number of local community groups,(and that this was something he was involved in within his parish) being formed on a range of specific issues, and that discussions had taken place with groups in various towns who had sustainable groups. With regard to a new policy, that would need to be investigated.