COUNTY bosses hope they will get to the root of the climate crisis with plans to plant one million trees by 2024.

The Great Northumberland Forest was announced by the Government in 2019 as part of plans to slash carbon emissions. The scheme has now been officially launched.

“We already have a very high level of woodland cover, but we don’t want to rest on this and do nothing, we want to keep going,” said Glen Sanderson, the leader of Northumberland County Council.

“We want the right tree in the right place and as a farmer myself, I know there’s a balancing act to found.

“We’re not saying we’re going to do away with the plough and the cultivator, this is about finding a balance which is good for everyone, good for our communities and good for the country.”

Coun. Sanderson was speaking at Kirkharle, birthplace of famed garden designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, to kick off the programme, which is expected to see 500 hectares planted over at Rusty Knowe, Kielder, and Monkridge, near Otterburn.

As well as large scale schemes, the project is also slated to include smaller orchards and “community woodlands”, which bosses hope will encourage further biodiversity, recreation  and tourism opportunities.

The launch event was attended by Berwick MP and international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, as well as Hexham MP Guy Opperman.

Elspeth Witts (10), of Corbridge Middle School, was presented with a medal and £250 prize for designing a Great Northumberland Forest badge.

Speaking about the forest proposals earlier this year, former Sunderland MP and member of the Northumberland National Park Authority, Chris Mullin, urged planners to focus on the quality of trees being planted, not just the quantity.

But Sir William Worsley, chair of the Forestry Commission, insisted the intention was not to create “another Kielder”.

He said: “There will be productive forest as well as amenity and community forestry.

“This is bringing trees to people, which is really important and will have so many benefits which we can all enjoy.

“It will leave the environment in a better state than we found it for the next generation.”

MP Guy Opperman added: "‘Trees help tackle climate change, and I was delighted to plant the first of one million that will form the Great Northumberland Forest alongside Elspeth from Corbridge Middle School, winner of the official competition to design the forest logo!

"The latest stats show that Northumberland is the greenest county in our country, and this government-backed project will play a huge part in helping reach the council’s target of net-zero by 2030.”