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Tree Planting

Volume 619: debated on Thursday 19 January 2017

We all love trees. Woodland planting in England is supported through the countryside stewardship woodland creation grant. To further encourage tree planting we launched the second round of the woodland creation planning grant and the woodland carbon fund. We are committed to planting 1 million trees for schools during this Parliament in partnership with the Woodland Trust and other community trusts.

Happy birthday from the residents of Southend West, Mr Speaker.

Will the Minister join me in congratulating Southend-on-Sea Borough Council on its memorial tree planting scheme, of which I am about to take advantage? Does she agree that planting a tree in memory of a deceased person is a fitting tribute and makes an excellent contribution to the overall quality of the environment?

I commend Southend-on-Sea Borough Council for its tree planting scheme, and I personally acknowledge my hon. Friend’s recent bereavement with the loss of his mother, Maud. I certainly agree with his tribute because trees can provide a longstanding reminder of the departed and offer bereaved loved ones a special place to visit that is living and growing. I know that from personal experience of the trees planted in Wrexham cemetery.

Having planted some 3,500 trees on my farm back home, I am aware of the incentives given by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Will the Minister indicate what long-term incentives there are for farmers to plant trees, and for the participation of community groups and schools in that process?

As I have outlined, the countryside stewardship scheme acts as an incentive for tree planting. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman is leading by example but, as he understands, the encouragement in Northern Ireland is led by his Government there.

Perhaps planting a birthday tree would be a good idea, Mr Speaker.

Does the Minister agree that planting trees is an important part of keeping the whole environment in balance, and that the environment should be made a cornerstone of our post-Brexit agenda? There are enormous opportunities to sell our technologies worldwide and to show that we are world leaders. At home, we should weave the environment into everything to do with our economy and our social aims so that we increase productivity and security, benefit everyone and leave the environment in a better state than it was in when we inherited it.

My hon. Friend is right to point out the importance of the tree, which can have multiple benefits, as she pointed out. Late last year, I visited St Vincent de Paul Primary School in Liverpool to support its tree-planting exercises. I can assure my hon. Friend that the environment is at the heart of the Government today, not just post-Brexit.