THE leader of Essex County Council has pledged to plant 375,000 trees across Essex to reduce carbon levels.

David Finch announced the Essex Climate Change Action Plan and the creation of an independent cross-party commission on climate change.

The Climate Change Commission will meet later this year and will be made up of members and experts in the field.

The commission will have an initial budget of £250,000 to fund and support environmental initiatives that look to reduce CO2, reduce waste, promote sustainable transport and work to combat climate change.

Mr Finch also announced the Essex Forest Initiative – a £1million tree project which will include planting 375,000 trees across the county over the next five years, which will capture 60,000 tonnes of carbon.

He said: “The time has come to actively demonstrate our commitment to climate change.

“Enough talking has been done, in order to have a future, we must act in the present, and the Essex Forest Initiative is an immediate tangible way in which we can show commitment to reducing our carbon footprint.”

The county council is already reducing energy consumption by installing solar panels, using LED bulbs, and investing in bus transport.

Simon Walsh will expand his cabinet role to include climate change action. He will aim to change how residents travel, ensuring walking, cycling and public transport is prioritised. He will also support the ‘greening’ of town centres.

Simon Walsh said: “Tackling climate change is everyone’s responsibility and we must play our part in tackling the biggest threat of the modern day. “The creation of the Climate Change Commission shows our commitment to reducing emissions, energy usage and waste across Essex. The hard work starts now, but by working with employees, partners, businesses, residents and communities, we will build a greener future for the county.”