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94 per cent of new trees planted for A14 upgrade perished

More than 90 per cent of trees planted in Cambridgeshire alongside new roads as part of the A14 upgrade later died, councillors have heard.

A14 upgrade (55528194)
A14 upgrade (55528194)

The figure was revealed at a meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council’s full council on Tuesday (March 15).

Cllr Edna Murphy (Lib Dem, Bar Hill) said: “We now know that there were just over 40,000 trees planted initially, although we do not know the date when they were first planted. And also in 2020 [some] 94 per cent of them were dead.”

She continued: “We are told that during 2021, National Highways attempted to address this by replanting the new saplings. “But how many were replanted? Was it the whole 94 per cent? And if not, why?

Cllr Murphy submitted a motion calling for the authority to press National Highways to ensure the tree planting project is successful.

She said: “It’s vital that we learn from this exercise or else we will simply repeat the same errors over and over and the vast majority of the 40,000 trees planted will die.

“We’re asking for more and better information to be published about this tree planting project so that it is available not just for officers or even for a committee, but also for the public.”

Her motion followed complaints from residents in Longstanton and Girton who say they can hear traffic more than they did before the upgrade.

A condition of the upgrade was that tens of thousands of saplings would be planted along the new roads to create much-needed noise barriers and make a positive environmental contribution.

Cllr Murphy’s motion called for the council to recognise the need to “focus more on the challenge of ensuring that these trees thrive, and that those that do not are replanted, with changes to their management to ensure that they do thrive in future”.

The motion continued: “To be more proactive in its dealings with National Highways to ensure this project can make a real contribution to mitigating the effects of the climate emergency.

“It is vital the situation is gripped, and the county council corporately views this as a critical environmental project, not just a legacy compliance issue from a road building project.”

The motion was passed.

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