Last month, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a sobering report, warning of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding unless the world acts.

This landmark study will undoubtedly become the focal point of the COP26 negotiations hosted by the UK in Glasgow this autumn. And whilst it’s imperative that conference commits the world’s leading carbon emitters like China and the US to take greater action, it’s also essential that the UK fulfils its net-zero pledge.

But if that target is going to be met, we need to act locally as well as nationally.

That’s why back in September 2019, I proposed a cross-party motion to develop a Climate Emergency Action Plan to eliminate our carbon footprint in Test Valley.

As well as increasing our electric vehicle fleet and harnessing new technology, we also pledged to plant thousands of trees to help remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

I’m, therefore, pleased to announce that over this autumn and winter Test Valley will plant 10,000 trees right across the borough – including on land at Valley Park, Hunts Farm, Anton Lakes, Ox Drove and Picket Twenty.

They will consist of young trees or whips and standard trees in a range of species, from hazel to hawthorn, blackthorn and field maple to beech, alder, oak and lime - with our dedicated countryside team ensuring we create the right habitat in the right place.

With the help of partners, it’s our ambition to plant a similar number in each of the next three years.

Boosting biodiversity and countering climate change.

This planting pledge comes hot on the heels of the work we have done throughout the summer to create more urban meadows in Test Valley, allowing grasses and plants to develop, providing valuable habitat for insects and birds.

The grass in these pilot areas is due to be cut and collected this month – and we will shortly be deciding on which areas we continue to manage as meadow and reseed with wildflowers.

It’s our plan to continue to increase the amount of land that’s given over to nature in our borough of Test Valley – which is not only great for the environment but makes our parks, verges and the edges of our recreation spaces look even more attractive.