Woodland plan triggers concern over future cost

PROPOSALS to create a new woodland in Newbiggin have been given a mixed response by town councillors.

Plans are afoot to create a 12-hectare wood on land next to Collingwood Road, Storey Crescent and Latimer Way.

The new woodland, made up mainly of oak and ash trees, would be part-funded by the Forestry Commission and would be included on a register of wooded areas created and managed to store carbon.

Concerns were raised about various issues including the proposed wood’s proximity to the Northumberland Church of England Academy’s Grace Darling Campus and its running costs at last week’s meeting of Newbiggin Town Council, however.

Coun Michael Boon said: “I have great concerns about this.

“It will be 50 years before the trees can take enough carbon in, and in a couple of years’ time, it will be put on to Newbiggin’s council to pay for it.

“I am totally against it.”

Coun Mavis Cholerton said: “It could be very nice in the long term of 50 years, but it’s thinking about the money and the plastic bags that are hooked in the trees.”

Speaking from the public gallery, Jim Lang, county councillor for Seaton and Newbiggin West, said: “This will be built and then given to the town council.

“I would not be happy if this was my area. I would not be happy having a car park at the end of Collingwood Road.”

The town council agreed to ask a representative of Northumberland County Council along to its next meeting to explain the plan more fully.

Mike Jeffrey, countryside access and recreation manager at the county council, said afterwards: “We are currently consulting on the proposal to create a new 12-hectare native woodland on council-owned land just to the west of Newbiggin.

“We hope that the new woodland will enhance the landscape of the area, provide valuable habitat for birds and other wildlife, and be a pleasant recreational area for local people to enjoy.

“In addition, the woodland would be validated under the government’s new Woodland Carbon Code, so that the benefits it brings in locking up carbon dioxide and helping to combat climate change can be monitored and verified.

“An officer from the county council will attend the next meeting of the town council to explain the scheme and answer questions.”

Residents of Newbiggin are being asked for their views on the plans.

Comments should be sent by Friday, February 11, to: Barry Wilson, woodland management officer, County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF. Mr Wilson can also be called on (01670) 534009 or e-mailed at barry.wilson@northumberland.gov.uk