MORE details have emerged of plans to spend £1.2 million on planting 100 hectares of new forests to tackle the climate crisis.

In a bid to offset carbon emissions, West Berkshire Council is planning on spending the money on planting trees across the district. As well as afforestation, some of that money will go towards regenerating wetland, which also captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

This year 750 trees will be planted, and next year 1,000 more trees are planned. Details of where the trees are expected to be planted have not yet been decided.

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While the council is currently unaware of how many trees have been planted in previous years, this is soon set to change.

Councillor Richard Somner (Con, Tilehurst South & Holybrook), lead for countryside, said: “Following the purchase of some new software recently, we are in the process of mapping the amount of tree cover, and this information will be available.

“Our intention is to be able to provide analysis split between privately owned and council-owned land. The expectation is we will have detail that we have never had before.”

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He made the comments in answer to questions at a meeting of the council executive on February 13.

He added: “Historically, tree planting has been less programmed and more opportunistic. Data from previous years about number of trees planted is not readily available.”

But Councillor David Marsh (Green, Wash Common) called for more and quicker action.

Cllr Marsh said the planned 1,000 trees next year “is not a lot, if you consider that Oxford City Council this week announced it was doubling tree cover and you’ve got a 40,000-hectare forest being planted in Cornwall.”

The tree planting is part of the council’s environment strategy, specifically the plan to offset 350 kilotonnes of carbon emissions annually, in 10 years time.

But the strategy’s main target is to reduce carbon emissions across West Berkshire by about 73 per cent by 2030 — the deadline to get to carbon neutral.

The latest available data showed 1,300 kilotonnes of carbon was emitted in 2017; while the 2030 target is to reduce this to 350 kilotonnes.

Elsewhere in the environment strategy, the council is planning on spending £3.5 million building two new solar farms.