Seeing the wood for the trees

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Woodland at Cluny Hill, Forres. Picture: Marc Hindley

A number of potential sites have been identified across Moray for planting trees as part of compensatory planting schemes funded by developers.

Residents in Moray will be asked to have their say about the proposals, and suggest additional or alternative sites.

If a planning application which involves the removal of woodland gets the go-ahead, developers will be expected to provide compensatory planting either elsewhere on the site, offsite in land within their ownership, or make a payment which allows Moray Council to engage an external organisation to carry out tree planting.

To date, £17.6k has been received in payments for compensatory planning, as well as £20k in developer obligations for a community woodland in Buckie.

Discussions are already underway regarding proposed planting at sites including Forres Railway Station, and the flood alleviation schemes in Elgin and Forres. Suggestions for additional planting sites, as well as comments on the list will be sought from Community Councils and associations, as well as local amenity and access groups.

Chair of Moray Council’s Planning & Regulatory Services Committee, Cllr David Bremner, is encouraging feedback on the proposed planting sites.

“There is an opportunity to significantly enhance existing spaces in Moray’s towns and villages, through a programme of woodland planting. This would bring amenity and biodiversity value to these areas, supporting the principles of the open space strategy.

“Providing trees as a result of compensatory planting policies improves the local natural environment and biodiversity, whilst also helping to promote healthier lives.

“Currently we have an agreement with The Woodland Trust to carry out the compensatory planting, but we’re exploring how Greenfingers – the Council’s own horticultural training service – could play an active part in delivering this planting in the future.”

Welcoming the statement from Cllr Bremner, insideMORAY would also like to see engagement with a range of other community groups across Moray to explore how they may also play an active part in the planting programme.