There has been widespread coverage this week, in various media outlets, following the Prime Minister’s commitment to supporting the new ‘Northern Forest’ along the M62.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “It is vital that we leave our planet in a better state than we found it, with cleaner air, stronger protections for animal welfare and greener spaces for everyone to enjoy.

“Progress is being made. We’re investing over £3billion in improving air quality, tackling marine pollution by banning harmful microbeads and increasing sentences for animal cruelty to five years.”

The Woodland Trust and Community Forest Trust are aiming to plant more than 50 million trees from Liverpool to Hull, with the government providing £5.7 million to kick-start the project. The forest will span 120 miles across the North of England, and will be planted over the next 25 years.

The forest would boost habitat for local wildlife including birds and bats. It would also protect several native species such as the red squirrel, whilst at the same time providing more access to woodlands for people living in the area.

It’s believed the project could generate an estimated £2billion for the economy, boosting tourism, local business and generating new jobs. It would also potentially raise house prices in the region, as well as help protect 190,000 homes from flooding.

It is hoped that local landowners will come onboard with the project, which initial planting will start in March at Smithills, Bolton.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “This new Northern Forest is an ambitious and exciting project that will create a vast ribbon of woodland cover in northern England stretching from coast to coast, providing a rich habitat for wildlife to thrive, and a natural environment for millions of people to enjoy. This new forest will help us deliver a Green Brexit and help to deliver on our pledge to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”

This announcement forms part of the government’s upcoming 25 Year Environment Plan, which will determine how we can be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.

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