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Approval for largest woodland planting scheme in 30 years

The scheme at Doddington North Moor is the largest woodland planting scheme for 30 years will help manage flood risk in the area and provide habitat for red squirrel, while storing more than 120,000 tonnes of carbon.

The new 350ha forest near Wooler in Northumberland will also be a significant boost to forestry and timber processing in the region.

The Commission has also approved the planting of more than 210,000 trees over 170ha of land on the Lowther Park Estate in the Lake District. Productive conifer species will make up 120ha of the site and most of the remainder will be productive broadleaf species.

The Doddington site, near Wooler, is about twice the size, at 354ha, with 268 ha to be planted - 42% conifers (the vast majority sitka spruce), 20% native broadleaves and 13% mixed Scots pine and native broadleaf. Of the remaining 25%, 10% is open ground and 15% managed priority habitat.

Richard Greenhous, director of forest services at the Forestry Commission, said: "We stand ready to support more large scale woodland creation projects that will deliver the government’s and the forestry sector’s ambitions to plant more trees across the country."

Andy Howard, project manager for Doddington, said one of the major battles to get approval was the designation of the planting site as priority habitat. Howard argued the site had become overgrown with rhododendron, bracken and gorse and said the main danger was doing nothing. Under the Doddington planting proposal, the amount of priority habitat on the site will increase by almost 70% due to enhanced management.

Howard said early engagement with the public had been crucial. "Doddington has hopefully broken the mould and can help us start to move away from the ridiculous position where you have to prove that planting trees is not a bad thing," he said. "You have to be prepared to challenge the 'Defra family' and their understanding, you have to plan very carefully, talk to local people at a very early stage and adhere closely to the UK Forest Standard. In the end, Doddington has proved that positive action gets results."

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