West Yorkshire Combined Authority Leader calls on Government to back the Northern Forest

More than 50 million trees could be planted to help to improve air quality, reduce flooding and help the City Region reach net carbon zero by 2038.

The Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, has joined hundreds of Northern leaders and called for the Prime Minister to support an ambitious tree planting programme for the North of England. 

She has signed a letter from the Sheffield City Region Mayor and Barnsley Central MP, Dan Jarvis, for a clear commitment from the Prime Minister and the Government for the Northern Forest which will see 50 million trees planted over the next 25 years by the Woodland Trust and their partners. 

The forest will span 120 miles, connecting the towns and cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster to the West and Sheffield, Leeds and Hull to the East, benefiting 13 million residents and generating £2.5 billion in social, economic, and environmental benefits.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “We are facing a climate emergency and we know that in the Leeds City Region we need to halve our carbon emissions every five years in order to reach our target of becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2038 at the latest.

“The Northern Forest is a very simple but very effective ideal which will be transformative for people right across the North of England, helping to improve health and wellbeing while also supporting wildlife habitats and reducing the risk of flooding.

In total more than 600,000 trees have been planted but more Government support is needed for the project. 

Darren Moorcroft, CEO of the Woodland Trust, said: “The Northern Forest represents the green lungs of the Northern Powerhouse. This pioneering project spearheaded by the Woodland Trust and the Community Forests, will deliver millions of new trees planted, and billions of pounds worth of economic, social and environmental benefits to the region. 

“If we are to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises the world faces, internationally significant projects like the Northern Forest must be at the forefront of bold, ambitious domestic thinking.”

More than 120 cross-party MPs and council leaders have signed the letter to the Prime Minister.

Currently, only 7.6% of the North of England is covered by woodland, considerably lower than the 10% national average.