A LOCAL authority which has committed to increase the three per cent of land in a borough covered by trees has rejected a call to replant residents’ Christmas trees.

Darlington Borough Council has been urged to start collecting residents’ Christmas trees with roots in the new year and add them to its ambition to plant 20,000 trees in the coming years.

The call follows Environment Minister Rebecca Pow earlier this year highlighting the importance of disposing of Christmas trees sustainably and suggesting replanting Christmas trees was the greenest option.

The Conservative minister said: “If you have a tree with its roots still attached, then replanting your Christmas tree is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help our efforts to plant more trees. But if replanting is not an option, make sure to check what collection and recycling services are available where you live. Alternatively, if you have a compost bin or heap, then you could break up your tree and add it to the compost.”

Urging the council to help residents to have their trees replanted, Councillor Nigel Boddy said a significant number of Christmas trees in pots or with a root ball in soil were sold to Darlington residents over the festive period.

He said: “The intention of course is to plant these trees in the new year. Regrettably, these good intentions are often not followed through. Ultimately, residents find in the months of January, February and March that they don’t have anywhere to plant the trees with roots when they reflect on the size of the tree which might eventually grow.”

He called for unwanted Christmas trees to be part of the authority’s tree planting strategy, with a separate annual collection and suggested the council could approach farmers in the area to find out if they would like to have trees planted on their land.

Cllr Boddy said: “Any urban resident would be most fortunate to be able find a place to plant a tree which will grow to even semi-maturity in a residential area without inconveniencing others or causing damage to their property or the property of others.”

An officer’s report over the council’s tree planting strategy states a young mixed woodland of about 1,000 trees could store more than 400 tonnes of carbon a year.

Cllr Andy Keir, the authority’s local services cabinet member, said the council did not have a plan for replanting Christmas trees and would not be looking to do so. He said normally it fell to the Rotary club volunteers to collect Christmas trees, with help from the council, but that service was not going to be offered this year due to Covid-19.

He said the council iss considering organising a collection for after Christmas and charging residents £5 to take a tree away, adding: “We wouldn’t be taking them away to be replanted. We just don’t have the facility for that. We would be taking them for mulching.”