Essex

Essex County Council to launch million-pound tree project

XR Chelmsford protestors
Image caption Extinction Rebellion campaigned outside the meeting

A local authority is to plant 375,000 trees to demonstrate its "commitment to climate change" reversal.

Essex County Council will grant funding of £250,000 to start a Climate Change Commission, along with a "million-pound" Essex Forest Initiative.

The cross-party group will be made up of councillors and experts, the authority said.

But climate change activists described the move as paying "lip service" and called for the public to be involved.

The Commission will fund and support initiatives which look to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other waste, and promote sustainable transport, it was announced at a full council meeting.

Image caption Essex County Council leader David Finch said the projects would demonstrate its commitment to climate change

Conservative council leader David Finch said: "The time has to come to actively demonstrate our commitment to climate change.

"Enough talking has been done, in order to have a future we must act in the present, and the Essex Forest Initiative is an immediate and tangible way in which we can show commitment to reducing our carbon footprint."

Hundreds of thousands of trees will be planted across Essex over the next five years which the council said would capture 60,000 tonnes of carbon.

However, members of environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion Chelmsford said the move was "all about the council, not the people of Essex".

Campaigner Lynne Wye, who attended the meeting, said: "I'm actually quite cross with what they said in there to paper over the cracks. That was for them in there not for the people of Essex."

She added the Commission needed to be transparent and that members of the public should be included as part of it.

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