Wirral Council is set to embark on an extensive tree planting programme after learning a bid to the government’s Urban Tree Challenge Fund has been successful.

It was confirmed that Wirral will be awarded £300,000 under the fund, which the council will be required to match.

If the council approves its own investment of £300,000 when it meets to set next year’s budget in March, the preparations for a programme worth £600k can begin in April, with more than 1,700 new trees in around 50 different urban locations in the borough being planted during the planting season - November 2020 to February 2021.

Councillor Liz Grey, Wirral Council Cabinet member for Environment and Climate Emergency, said: “Increasing our tree canopy is vital as we tackle this climate emergency and is a commitment we are making as we finalise our comprehensive 10-year Wirral Tree Strategy.

“Trees help to reduce air pollution and move us closer to achieving a net-zero emissions target by 2030. But for our local communities they mean so much more. They add to the beauty of an area and improve the quality of life for people living in that area."

The Wirral programme was included as part of a wider Mersey Forest bid for new urban trees. This aims to improve the quality of access routes, encouraging active travel and recreation and improving wellbeing through increased physical activity. It also aims to compensate for the loss of trees due to disease and help to adapt areas to projected climate change.

Green infrastructure is also designed to help make towns more attractive for further investment.

Among the areas set to see a significant volume of planting once the full funding has been agreed are Mill Park Drive in Eastham and Home Farm Road in Woodchurch, which are both residential areas lined with extensive grass verges. Under the programme, they are set to see 40 new trees planted on each of those roads.

Cllr Grey added: “Another key element of our Tree Strategy is to ensure that we plant the right tree in the right location in Wirral, which will help to give them the best chance of long-term sustainability and the best possible protection from diseases, pests and climate challenges.”

Reacting to the news, Conservative Councillor Ian Lewis said: “This fund is a great opportunity to step up our work to plant more trees. The day after the fund was launched in May last year, we urged the Town Hall to make sure they put together a bid for a share of this money.  I am really pleased that we will soon see more new trees being planted around Wallasey – making up for the ones that have been diseased, damaged or removed.”

Wirral Liberal Democrat leader Phil Gilchrist said: "I urged have Wirral to grasp this opportunity from the outset, from November 2018 onwards.

"We have lost too many of our trees due to age and disease. Wirral can now tackle this with vigour and confidence."