Bee hotel boosts biodiversity in Runcorn

24 April 2014
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 A project to create a thriving habitat for Halton's bees has been completed at Norton Priory in Runcorn.


The project involved the installation of a bee hotel and honey bee hives, the restoration of Norton Priory's wildflower meadows, and the creation of a bee-friendly spring garden and lavender walk. The bee hotel and hives are made from locally sourced timber.


It is hoped that this rejuvenated habitat will boost biodiversity and help to protect bees, which are currently a beleaguered species in the UK.


Norton Priory will also be selling the honey produced in its hives in the museum shop.


The project cost £5800 in total and was funded by local chemicals manufacturer INEOS ChlorVinyls through its Landfill Communities Fund as part of The Mersey Forest. It was completed with the help of local volunteers and in partnership with The NHS Trust and Health Improvement Team.


Paul Quigley, from Norton Priory, said: "Norton Priory has an affinity with bees which stretches back to the time of the Augustinian canons, who kept honey bees in the orchards of the priory.


"This vital project will help us to raise awareness of the diversity of bees and the crucial role they play in our local environment."


Janet Ward, of INEOS ChlorVinyls, said: "We are pleased to have been able to help this project to come to fruition. It's great to see so much local enthusiasm for the project."


Norton Priory are holding an Introduction to Beekeeping course on 25 May. Places must be booked in advance. Visit for further information.

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The Mersey Forest Plan shortlisted for planning award

16 April 2014
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The Mersey Forest Plan, the long-term strategic document of The Mersey Forest team and partners, has been shortlisted for a prestigious national planning award. 


The Plan, which sets out a vision in which Merseyside and North Cheshire is one of the best places in the country to live, has been shortlisted for the Royal Town Planning Institute's Natural and Built Heritage Award. 


The winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony in London on Monday 23 June.


Chairing the panel of judges at the RTPI is Sir Terry Farrell, one the world's leading architect planners. Sir Terry is also author of the recent Farrell Review, a UK government-commissioned review of architecture and the built environment.


Sir Terry said: "This is the second year I have chaired the judging and I am proud to say that once again our shortlist reflects the very best planning projects, strategies and processes that are helping to make great places for people to live and work.


"It will be far from easy to pick individual category winners, but I am looking forward, with my fellow awards judges, to that exciting challenge. I anticipate celebrating some truly outstanding examples of planning."

Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest, said: "We are proud to have been acknowledged in these renowned national awards alongside some great organisations.


"The Mersey Forest team, the wider partnership, and the local community have all invested a lot of time, effort and expertise into creating The Mersey Forest Plan, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that this hard work will be recognised when the awards winners are announced in June."


The Mersey Forest Plan sets out woodland cover targets for Merseyside and North Cheshire, and describes the aspirations for the management of the area's green space to benefit people, the economy, and wildlife. It can be downloaded at 




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Students dig in at Carmel College

15 April 2014
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Over 1000 trees have been planted at a St.Helens college as part of a project to transform the local landscape.


The scheme at Carmel College has included pond restoration and pathworks, wildflower seeding, raised bed growing areas, and the creation of woodland areas within the grounds.


The work was carried out by St.Helens Borough Council, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, John McIvor at Ecolibrium and eager students from the college. It was funded by a grant of £16,000 as part of the St.Helens Landscape Fund, which is being managed by The Mersey Forest on behalf of St.Helens Council with an additional contribution coming from the college.


Linda Carr from Carmel College said: "The students in the Foundation Learning department have really enjoyed getting involved in the planting process and have gained valuable experience in caring for the environment.


"The whole college community will benefit from the changes this project will provide."

The funding for the work has come from United Utilities via the St.Helens Landscape Fund – a scheme to invest in communities affected by the construction of the West East Link Pipeline, which carries water between Prescot and Bury. It has also been supported by the National Big Tree Plant Campaign, as part of The Mersey Forest.


Brian Tollitt from United Utilities said: "We're delighted that the fund is continuing to support positive work in St Helens. It's great that the college have been able to use it to deliver their plans to improve their own environment and that this will also benefit the community which uses the footpaths running alongside the site."

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Case studies reveal transformation set for Merseyside

08 April 2014
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A new set of case studies published by The Mersey Forest have revealed the landscape transformation which is set to take place in Merseyside between now and 2015. 


Thousands of trees are set to be planted in Knowsley, Liverpool, St.Helens, Sefton and Wirral as part of a street-tree programme funded by the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. 


The trees will be planted along streets to link residential areas with places of education, employment and training, and also to link these areas with recreational green spaces. 


They will provide many benefits to people, wildlife and the economy, including improving air quality, helping neighbourhoods to adapt to climate change, and improving the appearance of the streets, boosting investor confidence and stimulating the local economy. 


Planting has already started in Wirral, which has seen large-scale street-tree planting and community consultation over the last two years. The rest of the planting is set to take place between now and April 2015. Read more about the planting in Wirral here


The case studies produced by The Mersey Forest give context to this programme. They tell the story of the positive impact that street trees planted through other projects have already had on these deprived communities, and how this legacy has inspired the current programme of work. They also set out the aspirations for the transformation that will take place in these areas over the next year.


To keep up to date with the trees being planted in your area, follow the Local Sustainable Transport Fund blog, Greened Routes to Jobs.

To read the case studies, click on the image. 



This programme of tree planting is being funded by the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, part-funded by the Department of Transport through Merseytravel. 

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Planning and forestry resource launched at Community Forest conference

20 March 2014
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A new online resource which is set to help foresters, planners and developers work together to create woodlands has been launched in Birmingham. 


The website,, brings together a range of specialist knowledge and best practice in one place. 


It aims to promote inter-sector working, encourage developers and planners to embed tree-planting into thinking and plans, and support a network of forestry and planning in the UK. It also aims to provide clarity on planning and forestry policy following a number of changes announced by the government in the last year. 


The website was developed by The Mersey Forest, supported by the Forestry Commission. It was created in response to the Government's Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement, addressing the commitment to:


"Help to support a sector-led Forestry and Planning network encouraging them (woodland assets) to demonstrate how trees and woodlands contribute to sustainable development and help enable growth."


The site was launched at the Community Forest Conference in Birmingham on 19 March 2014, by Tom Ferguson, Planning Policy Manager at The Mersey Forest. 


Tom Ferguson said: "This website can provide an essential resource for foresters, developers and planners, equipping people from across the sectors with the tools to plant more trees across the UK.


"The site is very much a work in progress and we welcome feedback from anybody in the sectors to highlight missing links and documents." 


To explore the Planning and Forestry Hub, visit 



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