COUNCILLORS Sue Dann and Mark Coker have planted the first of 14,500 trees destined for the Forder Valley as part of the programme of work to build the long-awaited link road.
An oak sapling and 20 other trees including aspen, hawthorn, blackthorn and black poplar have been planted today as part of a wider landscaping scheme outside the construction area.
All the tree species are native to this valley and are being planted as part of a careful programme of work to counter loss of habitat and bolster the trees that are vital for protected species such as bats.
Transport planners working on the Forder Valley Link Road say the landscape of the valley will change dramatically over the next few months but care for the environment is at the heart of the ambitious road scheme.
The new link road, connecting William Prance Road in Derriford with the junction of Forder Valley Road and Novorossiysk Road, will provide a new route for traffic as the city expands.
It is one of the biggest infrastructure projects we have ever embarked on, providing an alternative route to avoid the congested Manadon Roundabout and A386 Tavistock Road.
This major engineering project will see a road bridge span across the valley connecting key destinations such as Derriford Hospital, the University of St Mark and St John and Plymouth Science Park to the A38.
As part of the initial work, around 400 to 450 trees within the valley near the road will be removed but straight away planting will begin on thousands of trees, to mitigate for those being lost as part of the scheme.
Ensuring any loss of the natural environment is more than compensated for has been an important part of the design from the start of this long-term ambitious plan.
Councillor Dann, cabinet member for street scene and the environment said: “No one wants to see trees go and we have done our utmost to keep loss to a minimum, but the initial work will see some pretty major changes to the landscape.
“Over the two-year scheme we will be planting more than 30 times the amount of trees taken out to offset this loss and this will ensure the landscape is restored as quickly as possible.”
The project has been designed to achieve a ‘positive gain for biodiversity’ by the end of the scheme, which means better spaces for wildlife to thrive.
Around 5,000 new trees and shrubs have already been planted at the Derriford Community Park, which sits next to the road and is being created to better connect residents with the local natural environment.
As part of the project, £1.3 million has been set aside for off-site works to improve sites for wildlife. This will be used to deliver new hedgerows, improve the quality of grasslands and plant trees, helping to increase the quality of city’s wildlife habitats. Importantly, part of this funding will be used for ongoing monitoring and care over a 20-year period to ensure these sites become well-established and flourish.
Dann added: “When we first started to look at this scheme, we were adamant that we would look after and improve the incredible nature and environment we have on our doorsteps. The first few months are going to be tough as there will be trees going, but the long term picture is pretty exciting.”
The road scheme, which is due to complete in 2021, has been designed alongside the Derriford Community Park. A key part of the park is Poole Farm, which has already encouraged new users, and thousands of volunteer hours have been chalked up planting over 1,200 metres of hedgerow as well as the city’s largest orchard and wild flower meadow. A new visitor and education centre is also being planned.
Footpaths and cycle routes are also being created to open it up and create new access points for local communities.