Trust Branches Out with Rare Freewoods Offer

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Our countryside, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your community, Your environment

Landowners across Essex are being offered a tree-mendous opportunity – the planting of a new native woodland, completely free of charge, with the Woodland Trust.

The Freewoods offer from the Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, takes its woodland creation programme in a new direction by seeking new partners and new locations for tree planting. The offer is expected to strike a chord with environmentally-aware landowners wishing to enhance their land for wildlife. By spring 2009 selected landowners could see their own mini-forests planted of oak, ash, birch and cherry thanks to the Woodland Trust.

Picture of a 10 year old young forest

Essex is one of three counties to pilot the Freewoods opportunity, with the Woodland Trust working alongside Essex County Council to help the authority’s aim to plant an additional 250,000 trees as part of its “Essex Works” tree planting programme.

Councillor Tracey Chapman, Essex County Council cabinet member for environment and waste said: “Our tree pledge aims to help produce a fine sustainable countryside that benefits both wildlife and people. By working with local landowners we are helping to improve and develop land that may otherwise be lost. I would encourage anyone who fits the criteria to apply. The benefits for our landscape and environment are long lasting.”

The other Freewoods pilot counties are Lancashire and Yorkshire, with some individual projects already approved elsewhere including tree planting in a new nature reserve and a new wood on land purchased to save it from development. The Freewoods offer includes site survey and advice on tree species with the Trust then planting and looking after the trees for two years. The minimum planting area per applicant is one hectare (2.5 acres).

“As a starting point all you need is the land and to share our commitment to increase native woodland cover,” said Trust project manager Peter Leeson. “The project is designed to have minimal paperwork and no bureaucracy. The pilot project has limited funds, however, and we will be choosing the best project sites from the applications we receive.”

Peter Leeson continued: “We are passionate about the need to increase native woodland cover, not only to help wildlife prosper but also to increase the quality of everyone’s lives. Of the UK’s total woodland, only one third is native broadleaf trees. An ideal new woodland area would be near ancient woodland or a site of ecological value on arable or improved grazing land. We will not plant trees on sites of high existing ecological value. We know from our work that creating new woodland can be a big decision for landowners – but we also know that more and more people want to plant or manage woods and to help wildlife and biodiversity.”

Research shows that reversing historically low woodland also offers green space for people for exercise and mental relaxation, improves water quality, reduces localised flooding, acts as a cooling influence locally and can play a role in mitigating the effects of climate change.

“Planting new native trees is vitally important to us,” Peter added. “Since the 1930’s England and Wales have lost half of their native woodland cover. England is now one of the least wooded countries in Europe, second from the bottom of the European woodland cover league.”

The Freewoods programme aims to plant trees by the end of March 2009 and has a limited budget. Interested parties should contact: Naomi Fox at the Woodland Trust by telephone on 01476 581111 or by email to

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity with 300,000 members and supporters.

    The Trust has four key aims:

  1. No further loss of ancient woodland
  2. Restoring and improving the biodiversity of woods
  3. Increasing new native woodland
  4. Increasing people’s understanding and enjoyment of woodland.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its sites is free. Further news can be found on the Woodland Trust website.

Woodland Trust website (opens in a new window)

Travellers and Gypsy Consultation

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Gypsy and traveller, Your council, Your environment

District-wide consultation on the future provision of traveller and gypsy pitches within Epping Forest District will begin on 4 November 2008. Speaking before a packed public gallery and with more residents watching on large TV screens outside the Council Chamber, councillors urged as many residents as possible to complete the survey.

Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder Councillor Anne Grigg left members and residents in no doubt of the government requirements. She said that the Government directive to the Council left it with no choice but to proceed with consultation towards a development plan for future gypsy and traveller pitches, adding that the Council continued to contest the number of pitches allocated through the East of England Regional Assembly.

Councillor Grigg emphasised that the consultation would begin on 4 November. With other councillors, she urged residents to engage with the Council, make their views known and give the Council as much evidence as possible to put before the Government via the Examination in Public.

Mrs Grigg went on to confirm that times and venues for public exhibitions had been organised across the district. Council staff will be on hand to discuss the issues with local residents and help them participate as fully as possible in the consultation process.

A number of technical amendments are to be incorporated into the draft consultation document, clarifying issues and making minor corrections to the text before it is officially published with the start of the formal consultation process on 4 November 2008.

Paper copies will be available although Mrs Grigg recommended that as many people complete the consultation forms online as possible.

Tree Officer Featured in the Observer

Written on . Posted in Countryside and wildlife, Media, Our countryside, Trees and landscapes, Your environment

Photographer Phil Fisk and assistant at work

Epping Forest District Council`s Tree and Landscape Officer Chris Neilan was featured in a major article in The Observer magazine on Sunday 12 October 2008. The subject was his work on Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT), a tree value system intended to help Councils manage their tree stock better and to be able to demonstrate that they are doing so.

CAVAT came to the attention of Lucy Siegle, a journalist from the BBC and The Observer, who interviewed Chris in Berkeley Square in Central London where the (so far) most valuable tree in Britain stands. Earlier in the summer this tree also featured in a number of stories in the national press, including on the front page of The Times. It has been calculated to have a CAVAT value of £750,000. A picture of Chris measuring the tree accompanies the interview.

Tree Officer Chris Neilan being photographed in Berkeley Square

For comparison, an average street tree in Epping would be worth around £5,500 and the most valuable tree in the District so far surveyed would be worth £250,000. This stands by the green, south of St John`s Church in Epping. Chris has been working on CAVAT for the last ten years, largely in his own time but with the support of John Preston, Director of Planning and Economic Development.

Traveller and Gypsy Consultation Starts 4 November

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Gypsy and traveller, Your council, Your environment

The Government has given Epping Forest District Council a directive to provide an extra 49 gypsy and traveller pitches by 2012 and more after this date. Their idea is that in providing enough suitable pitches in environmentally-sustainable locations, travellers and gypsies will no longer make unauthorised encampments.

The official consultation does not begin until 4 November 2008 and will run through to 20 January 2009. Members of the Cabinet will see a first draft of the consultation document at their meeting on Monday 6 October 2008. Amendments to the draft will then be incorporated before the document is considered by the Full Council on 28 October 2008. The Council has written to all landowners of sites identified in the draft document, inviting them to look at the information and offering them the opportunity to attend a special briefing to discuss any questions they may have.

To view this webcast click on the link below and then click on the index points tab to go direct to the agenda item.

Watch the webcastCabinet meeting 6 October 2008 webcast
(opens in a new window)

The report with the accompanying draft consultation document can be viewed via the Homepage of the Council`s website. The Council anticipates a great deal of public interest and will make the final document widely available electronically or in print form.

Agenda for Cabinet meeting on Monday 6 October 2008

All local authorities are required to carry out this exercise and this Council always intended to include the accommodation needs of the travelling community in its wider consultation arising from the more general targets for housing and employment provision set out in the East of England Plan. Despite this the Government issued a Directive requiring the Council to deal separately with the gypsy and traveller issues by publishing a stand-alone plan for this by September 2009. The consultation between November and January will cover options for what the final submitted plan should contain. The consultation document identifies 27 sites across the District. Each is listed and discussed individually, with aerial photographs to show how it sits in the surrounding landscape.

The final version of the document will include a detailed questionnaire designed to help the Council understand the public views on the key options. The District has no choice but to provide these pitches but it does have a choice as to where it proposes they go.

This exercise is being jointly organised by the Council`s Planning and Housing Directorates. Councillor Anne Grigg, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder, said: At this stage the location of potential sites is primarily a planning issue but clearly the accommodation needs of the travelling community forms a part of the Council`s overall housing responsibilities. We are required to make provision for travellers and gypsies. Mistrust and misunderstanding between the travelling and settled communities can lead to friction. This process, which includes comprehensive public consultation, should help to identify a balanced solution. Hopefully if our District plans for good sites we will run less risk of unauthorised encampments and the problems these create. It should also lead to fewer unsuitable sites being granted over our heads on appeal. This puts Epping Forest back in control of events.

Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor David Stallan agrees. He said: We have legal duties of care towards everyone living within the District. As well as consulting the settled community, it is also important to talk to the local travelling and gypsy communities. Council staff will be working directly with everyone involved to make sure we get the best outcome possible.

The Government call for the provision of additional traveller and gypsy sites in the District coincides with work to deliver general Government housing targets set out in the East of England Plan. As referred to earlier, Epping Forest District Council had hoped to combine the traveller and gypsy consultation with its general consultation with residents on the up and coming Local Development Framework delivering the East of England Plan.

In so doing it hoped to incorporate some of the required traveller and gypsy provision within larger projects for private and affordable housing developments. However, the Government has insisted that the traveller and gypsy consultation should be carried out separately.

Councillor Grigg said: It seems to many of us that the best way to provide new traveller and gypsy pitches could be as part of larger new developments in much the same way as we have successfully integrated affordable housing as a requirement of all planning applications over a certain size. That might have been done as part of the Local Development Framework but the Government wants us to look at traveller and gypsy provision as a separate issue.

Councillor Grigg added: Whilst there is an under-provision of sites nationally, the Council feels that this District has been allocated too many extra pitches in comparison with some other areas. However, the Government still wants us to plan for more sites even though the final number we need to plan for has not yet been decided at a regional level. As a result we must now comply with their Directive. Even so, I must stress that no decisions have been taken and not all the sites identified would be needed. This is at a very early stage, nothing is cast in stone. We want to make sure everyone can have their say through a properly structured debate. We will obviously talk directly with the owners of the sites and people in the travelling and gypsy communities but we also welcome the views of others which will be taken into consideration.

The Council will be including an update in the Christmas edition of The Forester. The final document and consultation forms will be available on the Council website and people will be able to request printed copies. One or more public exhibitions will be held where residents can view the options and ask questions. District Council representatives will work directly with people in the traveller and gypsy communities. Town and Parish Councils will be encouraged to help provide feedback. The consultation is due to finish on 20 January 2009 with the outcome published later in that year.

To view the draft consultation document, visit the Council online at . Responses can be made from 4 November. The Council will also publish a dedicated phone number for enquiries following publication of the finalised consultation document and survey form on 4 November 2008.

Epping Forest Residents Provide Fruit Trees in Malawi

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Recycling and waste, Residents, Supporting business, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Grafted trees

Everyone who recycles aluminium drinks cans in the Epping Forest District is helping grow fruit trees in Malawi. Latest figures show that in the past year residents have contributed to growing 81 grafted orange trees for families in rural Malawi and the more cans that are recycled, the more fruit trees will be grown.

The tree nurseries are run by local garden clubs and schools, which have been growing guava and pawpaw as well as the local lemon rootstock used for grafting the improved fruit species  – a new introduction to the area.

The first grafted trees have now been produced by trainees learning their new horticultural skills at the project and are being cared for both at Ripple Africa`s base on the shores of Lake Malawi, where they will be subject to trials for disease and drought resistance and at the garden club nurseries.

As well as providing a greenhouse, training and materials, Alupro is making sure that a fruit tree is grown to maturity for every tonne of aluminium recycled in the UK. This is to encourage everyone to recycle, by demonstrating how saving energy through recycling is linked to environmental challenges in Africa. Recycling aluminium is 20 times more efficient than making it from the raw material bauxite.

Grafted tree displayed in a recycled drinks canCouncillor Mary Sartin Portfolio Holder for Environment said: We are delighted that after just one year, recyclers in Epping Forest have been responsible for giving 81 fruit trees to the project, so I would urge everyone to make sure that they always recycle their drinks cans to help build a sustainable future in Malawi. Recyclers across the UK will give around 48,000 fruit trees this year. Many of the trees will be grown by individual families (improving their nutrition) and in community orchards which will provide opportunities for trade. The project also seeks to identify budding entrepreneurs who will be interested in developing small businesses to dry and juice fruits and create jobs. In these cases it is hoped that the business experience offered by the project will help ensure that the right decisions are made, small loans are available and successful initiatives established.

On top of all this is the environmental gain of growing so many valuable trees in an area suffering severe deforestation. Ripple is also growing fast-growing trees at the nurseries so they can be coppiced for firewood, which is one of the major reasons trees are felled.

Housing Proposals Discussed at Council Meeting

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Housing repairs, Meetings, Private housing, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Watch the webcastCouncil meeting dated 26 June 2008

At the latest Council meeting on Thursday 26 June 2008, Councillor Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council reported back to Members on the latest discussions with associates in Harlow and East Herts regarding the East of England Plan. She confirmed that no housing would be allocated to North Weald under the Plan but then went on to say that no infrastructure was included for housing around the rest of Harlow either. Mrs Collins drew Members’ attention to the need to develop the Council’s Local Development Framework (LDF). She said that planning applications could be coming in, in a year for now and the Council needed the LDF in place to manage the local East of England Plan allocation of houses to the South, East and West of Harlow.

Councillor Collins described some of the experiences of Young Year 6 children attending ‘Crucial Crew 2008’ at Gilwell Park. She outlined how children were taught the importance of resisting peer pressure and refusing to do dangerous things.

Watch the webcastCouncillor Diana Collins report to Members

Councillor Mary Sartin, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder gave a summary of recent actions. She noted that progress towards the completion of works on the pocket park at Bobbingworth was being delayed by the scarcity of sufficient quantities of good quality top soil.

Portfolio Holders new to their roles gave brief updates as they settled into the job. Councillor Richard Morgan, Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny gave a run down of recent work by his Committee.

Councillors received the latest Annual Statement of Accounts for Epping Forest District Council. The Council continues to benefit from a very sound financial position despite recent below inflation settlements from Central Government.

Epping Parking Review

Written on . Posted in Out and about, Parking, Residents, Travel, Your area, Your environment

Epping Forest District Council has, in partnership with Essex County Council been working on the Epping Parking Review. The works are programmed to commence in mid May and should be completed, (weather and access permitting) by the end of June 2007.

Copies of the proposals are also on display at the Civic Offices in Epping and at Epping Town Council in St Johns Road in Epping between 9.00am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
Note: The Town Council offices are closed for lunch between 12.30pm and 1.30pm.

Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council are committed to undertaking a review of the parking scheme six months after implementation with a view to addressing any concerns raised by residents and businesses regarding the scheme.

Comments can be forwarded to either Essex County Council or Epping Forest District Council:

  • Essex County Council Highways and Transportation
    West Area Highways Office
    Warwick House
    Roydon Road
    Essex CM19 5DX
  • Telephone: 01279 642500
  • Email:

Bobbingworth Tip – the Problem and the Solution

Written on . Posted in Business, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Work begins on Monday 19 March 2007 on the long awaited improvements to Bobbingworth Tip.

For more than ten years in the 1960`s and 70`s the former gravel pit near Ongar was being used as a landfill for domestic rubbish. Although landfill seemed like a cheap and easy solution to rubbish disposal at that time, tips like Bobbingworth have left a legacy of pollution. Now the Council is investing £1.35 million into turning the site into a public asset.

The works now getting under way to clean up the site will create huge underground barriers and drains to help control the flow of water leeching through the refuse. By the end of the project only clean, healthy treated water will flow from the site. The aims of the project is to control the volume of leachate leaving the tip and going into the Thames Water Utilities Ltd sewage works as Epping Forest District Council can be in breach of licence and incur penalties. Native trees and hedgerows will be preserved and enhanced with new planting and landscaping to provide a park for people to walk in and enjoy.

Tips like Bobbingworth pollute the local environment by giving off gases and contributing significantly to global warming. After so many years the gas emissions at Bobbingworth are now falling, but problems remain of pollution escaping as water seeps through the tip and affects land and watercourses around it. The smell of  gas may have faded but the water pollution is clear to see.

Over the course of the building works, a large number of lorries will bring materials to the site for the construction of the various structures and topsoil to cap the site properly. Care is being taken to keep the disturbance to residents caused by these lorries to a minimum.

    To reduce disturbance:

  • Opening times will be restricted:          Monday to Friday 8:00 – 18:00
              Saturday 8:00 – 13:00Note: there will be no operations on Sundays and Public Holidays
  • Low noise plant and equipment with effective silencers that are properly maintained
  • Work on Saturdays (when possible will be conducted away from the site boundaries)
  • On Friday afternoons soil deliveries will stop at 16:00 rather than 16:30
  • A maximum of 90 lorries on any one-day
  • No soil deliveries on Saturdays

The lorries entering and leaving the site will be restricted to a 30mph speed limit. Random checks will be carried out by Veolia (an environmental service) to make sure that the lorries delivering materials to the site are driving properly, and are driving at the right delivery times. Local residents are encouraged to report to Veolia any problems caused by the lorries. On site wheel-cleaning facilities will prevent lorries transferring mud onto clean roads.

    Contact details for Veolia are:

  • Telephone number for Veolia 01277 723 552
  • Or email the Veolia environmental manager

Ongar Tree Strategy Public Meeting

Written on . Posted in Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your environment

A public meeting is to be held in the Budworth Hall on Wednesday 25 October 2006 at 7.30pm to discuss the production of an Ongar Tree Strategy.

The proposed Tree Strategy will be reviewing the tree and landscape history of Ongar, assessing what is there now, and planning for the future.

    This is a chance for residents of Ongar to come along and add their contributions: 

  • Do you have any interesting anecdotes about the trees and landscape of Ongar?
  • What would you like to see in Ongar in the future?
  • Do you have any skills you are able to offer to help in the production of this document?
Click here to view Ongar Tree Strategy poster

The document is being produced by Epping Forest District Council in partnership with Ongar Town Council and the people of Ongar. So don`t miss this opportunity to come and have your say.

Refuse Collectors Injured By Knife And Broken Glass

Written on . Posted in Recycling and waste, Residents, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Residents are being asked to be more careful after separate incidents in which refuse collectors were injured by broken glass and a kitchen knife thrown away in domestic rubbish bags.

Both incidents occurred on black sack collection rounds. Councillor Derek Jacobs, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder appealed to residents to think of the safety of the refuse collectors. He said: In both instances the refuse collectors sustained nasty cuts and were taken to hospital. They also needed time off work for the cuts to heal and stitches to be removed. Collecting our rubbish is a hard job at the best of times and I would appeal to all residents to think before placing sharp objects, especially knives and broken glass in their rubbish.

Refuse collectors are injured by sharp objects in the rubbish every year. The introduction of wheelie bins is expected to lead to a considerable improvement in the accident statistics but black sack collections are scheduled to continue in some parts of the district for up to a year. Most households have blue boxes for glass bottle and jar recycling which are much safer for the refuse collectors.

Councillor Jacobs said: If you are throwing away something sharp that has to go in a sack, please wrap it carefully in several layers of newspaper or some material like an old towel. No-one wants to cause a serious injury to our refuse collectors. Most of the time they accept the hazards of the job but no-one should have to suffer from unnecessary injuries and potential infections caused by what amounts to carelessness. Residents have a moral and a legal obligation to take care.

Councillor Jacobs added: Everyone should also be aware that you could be sued for causing such an injury but no-one wants that. I am sure everyone can agree that avoiding injury in the first place is by far the best policy.