As a Town or Parish council you are ideally placed to involve your community. To successfully address the climate emergency, it will require involvement from all individuals, not just those who are already pro-active. To reach out beyond those in your community who are already pro-active, you can use other areas of common interest to bring people together. These could be; traffic problems, adverse weather conditions such as flooding, impact of new developments or cycling and walking paths. Whatever it is you can use it as a starting point to discuss the wider challenges of Climate and Ecological changes; these will affect all of us in one way or another.
To ensure greenhouse emissions decrease fast enough to prevent dangerous levels of global temperature rise, we are going to need greater, and more urgent, engagement with society. Local and parish councils are in a unique situation to engage people and your community at a grassroots level, getting people to talk about it encourages others to think about it and hopefully spread the message further and helps apply pressure to national government
Parish Council’s Statutory Responsibilities
- ACT (Action on Climate Teignbridge) have compiled a resource highlighting how all powers and duties which Town and Parish councils have can be aligned with a climate emergency. The resource is based around the statutory remit of local councils, some headings and associated actions will be more relevant than others for your community. The list here are a mix of short and longer-term suggested actions. Although this is based around Teignbridge, it is applicable to local and parish councils across Devon and can be viewed here.
- They have also produced more detailed guides on Built Environment and Energy, Transport and Food, Farming Forestry and Ecology- all of which can be viewed here.
Climate Action Plan
- 361 Community Energy Network have created a 7 step climate action plan toolset for Parish Councils and community groups to create an effective and scientific outcome based Climate Action Plan in response to Climate Emergency Declarations. This guide can be viewed here.
If you have a school, passionate individual or community group approach you about potential tree planting, you can signpost them to the tree planting section in the community resources section which highlights how schools can get free trees from the Woodland trust.
For local and parish councils, there are a variety of different schemes which offer support which are outlined below.
Why plant trees?
- Well designed new woodlands not only capture CO2 but deliver a wide range of other benefits too. Sustainability managed woodlands perform a vital role as carbon sinks and reservoirs by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and strong it as a component of wood itself.
- Beyond carbon, all trees and woodlands – where they are in the landscape, including our toens and citirs, can also provide a huge range of other benefits. They improve air quality, reduce the ‘urban heat island’ effect, provide timber, wood and wood fibre products, provide opportunities for people to reconnect with nature, provide new spaces to improve health and well-being, help to reduce flood risk and can reduce the costs of water treatment too.
- The government offers grants to make woodland creation cost effective part of the solution to meeting net zero carbon emissions. Detailed information on these grants for woodland creation can be found at: www.gov.uk/guidance/create-woodland-overview
- The woodland creation planning grant provides funding for woodland areas larger than 10 hectares. This grant provides funding to prepare a Woodland Creation Design Plan that complies with the UK Forestry Standard which can subsequently be used to support further woodland creation grant applications.
- The Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF) provides funding to support the planting and establishment of large and small trees in urban and peri-urban areas. The fund offers up to 50% of published standard costs. The UTCF is a challenge fund and applicants are required to provide at least 50% of match funding from other sources, which can be in the form of money or labour. Eligible places can be viewed here if you click the “UTCF Trees close to people layer” but includes many places all across Devon as shown in the image below.
- The Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant is a capital grant, through which applicants cant apply for one-off payments for the trees which will be planted and any associated protection items and support towards infrastructure to help the establishment of a new woodland. Once the woodland is planted and the final capital claim is paid, eligible applicants can apply for a separate multi-year grant to maintain to the newly created woodland for 10 years.