£60m Government funding for trees welcomed but concerns raised about maintenance

Horticulturists have welcomed yesterday's Budget announcement of £60 million extra for trees - but have questioned where money will come from for aftercare.

Street trees benefit both people and the environment. Image: HW
Street trees benefit both people and the environment. Image: HW

Two new funding pots were included in the budget, the first some £10 million for new street and urban trees, to be matched by contributions of funding and assistance from local authorities, community groups and charities.

The second is up to £50 million to purchase carbon credits from landowners who plant qualifying woodland. The Treasury said that the latter would provide for an estimated 10 million new trees over the next 30 years.

Chief executive of BALI, Wayne Grills said it was great anything in horticulture was getting that kind of recognition but aftercare and maintenance was an issue. "We put some fantastic beautiful spaces together but the budget to maintain them doesn’t always come through" he told Horticulture Week.  

Joint managing director of amenity nursery Johnsons of Whixley Andrew Richardson agreed: "It is good news for nurseries but I don’t think local authorities have any money for maintenance," he said.

It is something arboriculturists know all too well. Chair of the Women in Arboriculture Committee Michelle Ryan said: "Local authorities really don't have the money they need to invest in trees. Obviously every council is different but unfortunately many tree managers are just firefighting.  It’s good to see the different organisations working together to promote the importance of proactively managing our urban trees."

Labour shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs Sue Hayman was also critical. "Relentless cuts to councils by this government have decimated local parks and green spaces," she said.

"These one-off pots of funding, expected to be match-funded by cash-strapped local councils, do nothing to reverse or stop the serious decline of parks and open spaces on this government’s watch."

TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh congratulated the chancellor during his speech at the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Horticulture and Gardening annual reception, held in the Palace of Westminster a few hours after the budget announcement.

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