A peer has questioned why a proposed forest of more than 50 million trees across the north of England skirts around Lancashire.
Lancashire’s Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Tony Greaves has tabled a House of Lords parliamentary question to the government, pointing out that the county occupies an unexplained “bite-shaped” area to the north-west of the proposed forest.
The government announced £6 million of funding this week for the Woodland Trust and Community Forest Trust project, saying it will deliver major environmental, social and economic benefits and generate growth and investment of more than £2 billion.
Spanning more than 120 miles, the proposed forest includes a broad strip from Hull and the North Sea coast to Liverpool and the Irish Sea. It also covers the Peak National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park and parts of North Yorkshire.
Large conurbations of Leeds and Bradford, Greater Manchester and Merseyside are all also included.
Lord Greaves has asked what discussions have been held concerning the boundaries of the forest and what consideration given to Lancashire’s inclusion within its boundaries - particularly in relation to the upland areas of the county.
In a statement, he described the Lancashire as the “Babe-with-no-Wood”.
He said: “There is no explanation for this and the proposed area just stops on the tops of the Pennines.
“I want to know why and who has decided this? It is very odd.”
DEFRA said the government was backing growth, investment and jobs across the Northern Powerhouse as part of efforts to create an economy that works for everyone.
In a joint statement from Prime Minister Theresa May and Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment announcing the funding earlier this week, they said: “The Woodland Trust and Community Forest Trust estimate this new forest will generate more than £2 billion for the country’s economy.
“The area’s breathtaking scenery and landscape is famous across the world, and this scheme will help bolster it for future generations.”
Lancashire County Council said they have not been asked to contribute to this plan at present.
Coun Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “Lancashire is not part of the Community Forest partnership and in turn is not included in the Northern Forest proposal, although there is an opportunity in the future for the area it covers to expand into the county.
“The County Council is interested to explore this initiative further with regard to potential benefits for our area. Lancashire currently has a woodland cover of 6.5 per cent which provides all the benefits associated with social forestry, including health and wellbeing, recreation, landscape enhancement and increased biodiversity.”
The Woodland Trust have been contacted for comment.