Afforestation Programme

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:15 pm on 2nd March 2020.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 1:15 pm, 2nd March 2020

I thank the Member for not accusing me of being old yet. It is all relative. To an 80-year-old, I am young; to a 20-year-old, I am old. Given that the Member is closer to my age, he probably does not see the old bit, but young people probably see us as not being young. That is all an aside.

On planning policy, trees are more challenging in built-up areas. I suspect that most Members have been lobbied about getting trees taken away and so forth because of roots growing through footpaths or leaves shedding on people's roofs and causing problems. Tree planting in urban areas and, especially, identifying it through planning need to be done with the appropriate trees, and it needs to be done in a way that causes good impacts as opposed to negative impacts on the people who live there. I do not want to insist on trees being planted, only for somebody to have to whack them all down with a chainsaw in 20 years' time. We need to get it right, and we are happy to work with the Department for Infrastructure on the planning side to ensure that local authorities' planning divisions look at the issues appropriately.

Of course, green areas are left in new-build areas nowadays. It is about how we can plant trees appropriately in those areas.

Nothing beats driving through a city with a broad avenue that has trees lining either side of it. It looks fantastic. We need to ensure that we can have appropriate planting of trees in our urban areas.