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Adapting to climate change

Climate adaptation means anticipating the effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage it can cause.

The Climate Adaptation and Mitigation team at Essex County Council seeks to:

  • reduce carbon emissions
  • sequester carbon
  • protect biodiversity
  • reduce flooding
  • improve water quality and water scarcity
  • reverse soil degradation
  • prevent urban heat stress
  • improve air quality
  • create and enhance green infrastructure, including trees, meadows, marshes, parks, and gardens

To achieve these aims, the team works closely with partners in Essex to deliver large-scale landscape change. This includes retaining 30% of Essex as areas for wildlife and enabling landowners and farmers to move to sustainable farming.

Reducing floods

Essex County Council is responsible in Essex for reducing the risk of flooding from surface water, groundwater, and ordinary watercourses. We work closely with other organisations under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

The Climate Adaptation and Mitigation team investigates flood incidents and makes proposals to reduce the threat of future flooding. They comment on around 500 planning applications each year, improving flood protection to 67,500 new properties in Essex.

The creation of a Flood Projects Delivery team has also reduced the flood risk to 1,600 properties over the last seven years.

Creating green infrastructure

The Green Infrastructure team delivers nature recovery and coastal projects in Essex's rural and urban areas. In 2020, they published the Essex Green Infrastructure Strategy.

You can read the full Essex Green Infrastructure strategy (PDF, 14.25MB) and supporting documents:

The Climate Adaptation and Mitigation team works with partners to create green infrastructure projects that meet environmental, social, and economic outcomes. For instance:

  • Hole Farm is a major green infrastructure project by Highways England and the Forestry Commission. Together they will be planning, planting, and managing a new community woodland. It will be a thriving wildlife habitat, a source of sustainable timber, and an inspiring place for people to visit and explore. It could be the focus of a reinvigorated Green Infrastructure Plan for the Brentwood area of Thames Chase Community Forest.

  • Landscape company Ground Control purchased the 120-hectare Grays Farm, near Braintree, Essex, for £2m in April 2021. They intend to open a research and training facility to help landowners unlock the potential of their land. The Wildfell Centre for Environmental Recovery will provide guidance and learning opportunities in woodland creation, meadow and hedgerow restoration, and biodiverse habitat restoration.

Planting trees and looking after woodlands

Essex County Council has committed funding of £500,000 towards the Essex Forest Initiative. This figure is matched by funds from the Forestry Commission, the Woodland Trust, and other charities and partners.

The primary objective of the Essex Forest Initiative is to offset the carbon produced in the county. Over 375,000 trees will be planted on over 150 hectares of land - about the size of 210 football pitches. 150 hectares of woodland locks up 60,000 tonnes of carbon over the wood's lifetime. The scheme started in 2020 and is due to be completed in 2025.

Essex County Council has planted 142,000 trees in the first two years of the Essex Forest Initiative. This is almost double the 75,000 tree target for this time period.

Essex County Council also has approximately 810 hectares of existing woodland. Many of these are ancient woodlands and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

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