MPs debate government's England Tree Strategy at Westminster

The NFU briefed MPs ahead of a Westminster Hall debate on the National Tree Strategy that took place on 16 December.

The debate was secured by the MP for Barnsley, Dan Jarvis, and focused largely on the forthcoming England Tree Strategy, which is due to be published in the new year, alongside a summary of responses from the consultation that ran over the summer. The strategy will set out the government’s forestry policy through to 2050.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow and shadow Defra secretary Luke Pollard were among the MPs that spoke on the importance of planting more trees, which is now a key part of the government’s strategy to combat climate change, help reduce carbon emissions, encourage biodiversity and nature recovery, and improve people’s health and wellbeing.

During the debate, MP for Totnes Anthony Mangnall highlighted that future policy must “marry up farming and tree planting as effective tools for lowering emissions", reinforcing the NFU’s view that caring for the environment and food production goes hand-in-hand:

Environment minister Rebecca Pow thanked Mangnall for his important point and agreed that the principle of “the right tree in the right place” must be adopted:

“We know that tree planting is not suitable for all locations, so we will work to ensure that the vision showcases how we can deliver tree planting that is sensitive to protected landscapes and complements our heritage. We obviously need to ensure they work in harmony with habitats, such as our peat lands and the uplands, and we will link up with the peat strategy to ensure that we have the trees in the right place.”

Mangnall also cited the NFU when highlighting that taxation can be a barrier to alternative permanent land use:

“The point has been well made by the NFU that taxation must never get in the way of those who are trying to plant trees. Agricultural property relief or business property relief may not be available to those who take away their land from farming and put it to tree planting.”

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