15 April 2021

The APPG met to elect its Chair and Vice Chairs at its virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM). The group also discussed the new State of the UK's Woods and Trees report.

Annual elections

Every year the APPG is required to hold an AGM to elect a Chair and Vice Chairs. This year, Jason McCartney was re-elected as Chair of the APPG. All members of the group were elected as Vice Chairs, including a number of new faces from across the political spectrum and the UK.

State of UK Woods and Trees

Prior to the APPG meeting, the Woodland Trust published its report on the State of the UK's Woods and Trees 2021. A summary presented to the group was a good source of interest, with many MPs and Peers expressing backing for the report and its conclusions. A number of MPs and Peers have since used it in debates and parliamentary questions to press the Government over its findings.

For more details and attendees, read the meeting minutes.

For any queries, contact GovernmentAffairs@woodlandtrust.org.uk

3 February 2021

In another virtual meeting, the group of 18 focused on two main areas: tackling climate change and natural flood management with trees and woods.

COP26

Hosting COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, in November 2021 is an opportunity for the UK to show environmental leadership. The group discussed several areas important to delivering the aims of COP26:

Trees for natural flood management

The Trust’s Pete Leeson gave a presentation and answered questions on trees for flood management. Tree planting, hedgerows and land management are vital tools and the Trust has a decade of experience in dealing with flood management in Cumbria and elsewhere in the UK. Pete emphasised that restoration efforts need to be delivered at landscape scale and education and consistent public messaging are key.

For queries or a copy of the official meeting minutes, please contact GovernmentAffairs@woodlandtrust.org.uk

September 2020

The latest APPG meeting took place on Tuesday 8 September with representatives from across the Houses of Parliament.

England Tree Strategy response

The Chair, Jason McCartney MP, led members in a discussion of the proposed APPG response to the England Tree Strategy consultation. This was agreed and will be sent by letter to the responsible Government minister.

Planning reforms

Rebecca Pullinger presented the proposals in the Planning White Paper and outlined the Woodland Trust’s main concerns. The Chair agreed to hold another APPG meeting before the consultation end date of 29 October. We aim to invite the planning minister to attend so that these concerns can be put to him.

Opportunities across the UK

Richard Barnes gave an update on key developments across the UK. Chief among these was the Welsh Government’s announcement of £106m of investment in the rural economy over the next three years. This includes commitments to increase woodland creation and restoration. We’ll be looking to influence what is done and where.

The Scottish Government has also announced its Programme for Government. This includes increasing tree planting to 18,000ha a year by 2024 and extra funding for Scotland’s forestry and nursery sectors. Scotland has been a pioneer with its ambitious tree planting targets, so this was a key message for politicians who may be able to influence Government to improve its own commitments.

We look forward to engaging with MPs and Peers across Parliament on all of these issues and continuing to push Government for greater changes to existing and progressing legislation.

For queries or a copy of the official meeting minutes, please contact GovernmentAffairs@woodlandtrust.org.uk

July 2020

An Extraordinary General Meeting was held to elect a new chair, as previous chair, Alex Chalk MP, has become a minister. 11 MPs and two Peers attended the meeting.

Elections

Jason McCartney, acting chair since February, was unanimously voted in as chair. Several vice chairs were also elected from across the political spectrum.

England Tree Strategy

The Trust team set out our position on the England Tree Strategy. The chair will continue to seek a parliamentary debate on the strategy.

Opportunities and challenges from the economic recovery proposals

The Prime Minister’s recent mention of £40m green jobs funding is welcome. Yet only about half of the green recovery narrative has progressed, mostly on renewables and energy efficiency. Nature being at the heart is key, so we hope to see more on the natural environment from the Chancellor in autumn.

There was also concern about what the Prime Minister’s ‘radical reform’ of planning might entail. The APPG fought hard for significant improvement to planning policy and this mustn’t be reversed.

Bill updates

The Environment Bill Committee Report date is now 29 September. Dan Jarvis MP has tabled an amendment that would put the England Tree Strategy on a legal footing within the Bill, and require the setting of targets and 10-year reviews.

Chris Clarkson MP tabled a Tree-lined Streets Bill as a Ten Minute Rule Bill for 15 July. This aims to ‘require building developers to ensure that the streets of major new developments are lined with trees; and for connected purposes’. The bill now has a second reading scheduled for October.  

For queries or a copy of the official meeting minutes, please contact GovernmentAffairs@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Credit: Abi Bunker / WTML

January 2020

Attended by 21 MPs and 3 peers, the APPG changed its name to the APPG for Woods and Trees. Its remit changed to:

  • responding to the challenges of a changing world
  • raising awareness of the UK’s woods and trees.

Alex Chalk MP was elected as chair and Mike Hill MP, Dame Cheryl Gillan MP and Michael Fabricant MP as vice-chairs.

Our Emergency Tree Plan was introduced, helping the group to better understand its importance for the future of trees and woods in the UK.

Updates were also given on recent work with local authorities and threats to ancient woods, including HS2.

Credit: WTML

March 2019

John Grogan MP (Labour) was elected new vice chair and Alex Chalk MP (Conservative) was elected vice-chair. The APPG was updated on:

  • efforts to fund ancient woodland mapping with the Ancient Woodland Inventory (England) Bill, presented to Parliament by APPG member Michael Fabricant MP in January. 
  • how improved protection through the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has made a difference
  • the need for more scrutiny of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, which threatens at least 383 ancient woods within 2km of the route corridor.

Credit: Victoria Bankes Price / WTML

October 2018

Rebecca Pow was re-elected as chair and Angela Smith, Michael Fabricant and David Warburton as vice chairs.

The group then discussed how emerging biosecurity threats could impact ancient woods and trees and the need for greater support for the Ancient Woodland Inventory. It also considered how ancient woods will be affected by the £4bn Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, and the number of ancient woods threatened by HS2 plans increasing to 108.

Credit: WTML

April 2018

With Housing Minister Dominic Raab in attendance, MPs took the opportunity to press home the importance of stronger protection for ancient trees and woods.

Credit: Chris Marsh / WTML

July 2017

This meeting focused on changing planning rules to make the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland ‘wholly exceptional’.

The Government had promised to strengthen protection for ancient woodland in its Housing White Paper, a pledge backed by over 15,000 members of the public.

The APPG agreed a number of actions to ensure this was delivered. Rebecca Pow was re-elected as Chair. 

Credit: Philip Formby / WTML

December 2016

At this AGM, SNP MP, John McNally was elected co-chair alongside existing chair Rebecca Pow. Mims Davies MP was also elected as vice-chair.

We presented the results of our survey to planners on ancient woodland which resulted in some interesting and lively discussion.

Credit: Dominic Nicholls Photography / WTML

March 2016

Our president, Clive Anderson, captivated members as the keynote speaker. Following an update from chair, Rebecca Pow MP, Clive talked about his love for trees and woods and why it’s vital legislators recognise their importance and protect them for future generations.

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