We committed in our manifesto to increasing planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares, and we are working with the devolved Administrations to deliver that. We announced a £640 million nature for climate fund, a lot of which will contribute towards the tree planting, together with our green recovery challenge fund, and the skills required to plant these trees and look after them will all be part and parcel of this. We will be publishing our tree strategy with all the details later in the spring.
As communities along the River Severn catchment are facing flooding once again, I thank the Minister for all she has done to fund a hardening of flood defences along the River Severn. Will she say how tree planting is also effective at reducing the amount of floodwater that goes through the catchment and reducing the speed?
I thank my hon. Friend very much for that question, and of course our sympathies go to anyone who has been flooded overnight. With the Environment Agency, we have a very big project on to oversee all that. We are absolutely committed to better protecting the country from flooding, and I thank her for her comments about what is happening in the Severn valley. Natural flood management, including tree planting, cannot solve the issues of conventional flooding, but it is part and parcel of the whole plan—the holistic plan—for dealing with flooding on a much wider and more comprehensive scale. Proposals to do that include flood-risk management options, which will include tree planting, improve water quality and enhance the environment. It will be an integrated approach and I very much look forward to hearing more about the plans for the Severn valley, which I know she is hugely behind.