Newcastle International Airport plants over 8,300 trees to create new woodland areas
The North East’s largest Airport has planted over 8,300 trees as part of its membership of the North East Community Forest Project as well as to support the business’ stretching environmental targets.
The North East Community Forest is a 30 year, multi-million pound project that will see tens of thousands of trees planted across Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham.
Helping to tackle climate change and support regeneration, the project plans to plant up to 500 hectares of trees by 2025, with a long-term goal to increase canopy cover across the North East by 30% before 2050 – almost double the current national average.
The new 5.77 hectare woodland area on Airport land, recently created with the help of the UK’s leading woodland creating and forest management company Tillhill, is one of the largest of the 25 North East Community Forest areas to be created in the 2021/22 planting season.
The trees, which are protected against rabbits by spirals during the establishment period, include eleven different broadleaf variations including silver birch, sycamore, hornbeam, poplar and white willow. This species mix was selected to minimise bird hazards, with the mix also helping to create ecological benefits through the provision of new habitat, carbon sequestration and landscape enhancement. The project is encircled by deer-proof fencing and includes the replacement of any failed trees at the end of years one and two.
Graeme Mason, Chief Sustainability and Communications Officer at Newcastle Airport said “Being a good neighbour is extremely important to us and progressing with our Net Zero 2035 ambitions is one of our main objectives in the coming years.“
“The planting of these trees on Airport land will work to harness carbon from the atmosphere for many years to come, as well as providing more green canopy and woodland areas for the North East.”
Tilhill’s Business Development Manager for England and Chartered Forester, Simon Marrington said: “This new woodland is the start of a much larger scheme to provide increased woodland cover in the North of England which seamlessly fits with the local character. The new woodland will form part of the newly created North East Community Forest bringing a range of benefits to local communities.
“The creation of the forest will provide local jobs, bring people closer to nature, reduce flooding, provide wildlife habitat, and sequester tonnes of carbon. We are excited to be part of such an important opportunity to help meet the UK’s planting target and help Newcastle Airport achieve its net zero ambitions.”
Cllr Nick Kemp, leader elect of Newcastle City Council, the lead authority for the Newcastle Community Forest Project said: “Tackling climate change is one of our key priorities and it is only by working with our partners such as Newcastle International Airport that we will be able to meet our net zero targets and create more sustainable communities.
“Through the North East Community Forest we have made great strides to improve our natural environment and in years to come these new woodlands will create new habitats for wildlife, improve air quality, reduce the risk of flooding and make a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
“We look forward to continue working with all our partners and building upon the great work we have achieved already to create greener and healthier places for us all to live, work in and visit.”
Cllr Tracy Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council and Lead of the LA7 local authority shareholders, said: “It is fantastic that Newcastle International Airport is leading the way among UK and European Airport’s with its Net Zero 2035 strategy.
“The Airport’s Net Zero strategy aligns closely with the ambitions of our local councils and combined authorities to be a low carbon region. The North East Community Forest project and the Airport’s tree planting scheme is a fantastic initiative that will contribute to this ambition.”
Alongside the Community Forest Project, the new woodland area also supports the Airport’s ambitious Net Zero 2035 strategy. As part of the environmental roadmap, Newcastle International is undertaking a number of largescale initiatives to ensure the business hits the stretching target.
This includes the development of a Solar Farm on Airport land that will aim to supply 100% of the business’ electricity requirements by renewable means. The solar farm development area also includes additional green enhancements made up of new trees, hedgerows and wildflower meadows.
Alongside the Solar Farm, the Net Zero 2035 roadmap will also include upgrading the Airport’s fleet of vehicles to 100% electric models, the first step of this initiative saw the Airport purchase the UK’s first fully electric airside bus in 2020.
Passengers using the Airport’s car parks now also have the option to donate 5p or 10p to offset the carbon emitted on their journey’s to and from the Airport. The donated funds will support additional tree planting on Airport land, which will harvest even more carbon from the environment.
The tree planting project is expected to be fully complete by the year 2025.
For more information on the Airport’s Net Zero 2035 plans, visit: www.newcastleairport.com/about-your-airport/environment/net-zero-carbon-2035/