Large-scale tree-planting scheme in Portsmouth set to be announced 

Thousands of trees could be planted acriss Portsmouth
Thousands of trees could be planted acriss Portsmouth

THOUSANDS of trees could be planted in Portsmouth in a bid to reduce pollution and improve quality of life.

Portsmouth City Council will consider a plan to expand greenery including introducing trees and plants in primarily urban areas as well as creating a strategic 'green grid' across the city to target areas of poor air quality.

At a council meeting tomorrow the regeneration boss, Cllr Ben Dowling, will decide whether to take the plan to the next stage which will involve analysing the city street-by-street to see where trees are needed.

A recent estimation showed that the city's tree canopy cover is just 14 per cent, similar to that of London.

Cllr Dowling believed that increasing this would benefit all Portsmouth residents. 'We know that the value of trees in the city is massive,' he said.

'It's not just about air quality, it's about quality of life and the impact on people's wellbeing. It's about creating an attractive city that is better to live in and to visit. Portsmouth maybe seen as a concrete jungle sometimes but it should not feel that way.

'Ultimately the average person doesn't have time to go to a park or common on a daily basis but they will walk down the street everyday. '

If the plan goes forward the council will also consider making enhancements to existing green spaces such as parks by landscaping and planting additional trees, shrubs and wildflowers.

The type, age and size of the trees will be decided based on a review of each site.

Cllr Dowling added: 'Our hope is to considerably increase greenery in the city.

'In the next few months we will start by looking at areas with no trees and wide pavements areas where we think it's beneficial to plant either trees or green plants.

'We are expecting there to be areas that are more difficult such as Fratton because it has a lot of narrow paths and buildings. But we are positive we can find a way forward.'

The plan was met with support from residents and campaigners.

Kimberly Barrett, the founder of Keep Milton Green, said: 'This is fantastic. Any new planting is good news not just in Milton but across the whole city.

'We have been fighting for this for a long time and it's great that the administration have listened.

'This will improve the health of people in the city and it's especially important considering the amount of new flats that are being built that don't have gardens.'

Currently Portsmouth has a known stock of more than 30,000 trees including 25,000 council-owned trees; 8,000 of which are managed by the city’s highways contractor and a further 3,000 that are protected through tree preservation orders.

If the plan is taken forward it is expected details on the targeted areas and numbers of trees needed will be known in the new year. The council will then apply for external funding for the scheme.