Anglian Water has today announced a joint initiative, along with other English water companies, to plant 11 million trees by 2030.
This plan will see trees, hedgerows and grasslands planted on around 6,000 hectares of land across England, which will bring both environmental and wellbeing benefits.
In addition to property owned by Anglian Water and the other water companies in England, some land will also be provided by partners such as The National Trust and The Wildlife Trusts.
Anglian already has a proven track record of working in new and innovative ways which enhance the local environment. In 2017, it became the first water company in England to build a water treatment wetland at Ingoldisthorpe in north Norfolk, in partnership with the Norfolk Rivers Trust.
The one-hectare site acts as an innovative, natural treatment plant for more than a million litres of water a day. Used but treated water passes through the wetland to be further filtered and cleaned, before it is returned to the environment in the River Ingol.
The £500,000 project is made up of four shallow interconnected ponds which have been planted with thousands of native chalk wetland species such as iris, sedges, rush, marsh marigold and watercress.
The plants do the same work that additional carbon hungry, expensive water treatment facilities would do, all while being lower cost, better for customer bills and creating a haven for wildlife.
The water company has proposed at least 30 more of these sites as part of its next business plan from 2020.
Peter Simpson, Chief Executive for Anglian Water said: “Much of our proposed planting will be with the purpose of allowing nature to help us do our job. Whether that be by building more treatment wetlands, or by using green spaces to manage urban flood risk in partnership with customers, local authorities and local charities.
“We take our commitment to the environment and the local communities we serve very seriously, and we’re proud to be at the forefront of the water industry’s environmental efforts. Eleven million trees is a significant commitment, and one which will really help to combat the huge challenges of climate change and flooding, as well as adding to the natural beauty of our region.
“We’ve been pushing for the water sector to reduce its carbon footprint for a number of years. This initiative is a clear signal of the whole industry’s intent to be running carbon neutral businesses by 2030.”
Water companies already have detailed plans in place to plant the first 2.5 million of the 11 million trees. The next priority will be to identify additional sites across England which are appropriate for tree planting or habitat restoration.
The project will involve local partnerships with customers, councils and regional NGOs. The Woodland Trust has agreed to work with all the water companies to help identify sites and manage the planting programme once it is developed.