Southend Council is making good on its promise to preserve the number of trees by planting 1,000 saplings at a cost of more than £300,000.

The Labour, Lib Dem and Independent-run authority announced its intention to draw up a tough new policy on tree management shortly after taking power earlier this year.

The administration temporarily halted the non-emergency destruction of street trees after concerns were raised by residents when the Once-Upon-a-Tree campaign group revealed almost 3,000 had been cut down in just ten years.

The council has since created a new tree policy to be put before the cabinet with a one-off investment of £316,850, which will include ongoing care to establish the saplings.

Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, who halted the tree felling, said: “My cabinet colleagues and I are passionate about the environment and recognise the important benefits that trees and other planting have on our air quality, the local street scene and our sense of pride of place.

“Should this report be approved, we will see 1,000 additional trees planted across the borough over the next three planting seasons, which will be in addition to the trees we plant to replace those that unfortunately have to be removed. We will adopt a reviewed approach to managing trees, one that further engages the local community in donating and planting and puts the maintenance of existing trees at the heart of what we do.”

Ms Mulroney added: “We have listened to local people and their concerns, and we will continue to work with residents and groups to ensure we are delivering our ongoing aim to maintain and enhance tree coverage across the borough.

“The announcement of 1,000 new trees is just the start, and we are also going to enhance and promote our tree donation scheme, and to work with residents, businesses and groups in the borough to increase that number still further.”

However, some believe the policy does not go nearly far enough.

Richard Longstaff, spokesman for Once-Upon-A-Tree, said: “This is woefully inadequate given the climate condition.

“We have an i-Tree report on the number of trees in Southend and carbon emissions. It shows we have 567,000 metric tonnes of Co2 per annum and the tree canopy sequesters just 6,300 tonnes of carbon per annum – just 1.2 per cent.

“In 2018 we were found to be one of the most polluted towns in the country. We would need to plant a million trees - 1,000 trees isn’t going to make a dent. It’s just a political gesture. However, it’s a start.”

The group has drawn up a list of recommendations it hopes the council will consider including in its new policy, including the establishment of an independent tree review panel to monitor trees in the borough.

It also wants the removal of trees to be a matter of last resort.

Information received by Once-Upon-a-Tree following a freedom of information request earlier this year revealed between 2009 and 2019 a total of 2,969 street trees have been removed. The group has begun a bid to enlist residents’ help to replace these.