The future is in our hands

From tree planting to bug and bee boxes - how you can make a difference locally.

Cllr L Pepper
If we're going to achieve significant reductions in our carbon emissions, we need support from our local community.

You can seek ways to reduce your CO2 emissions by adopting some environmental behavioural changes. Why not start, by viewing your community's carbon footprint.

Community Carbon Calculator

The Community Carbon Calculator was developed by the Centre for Sustainable Energy as part of their Climate Emergency Support Programme, working jointly with the University of Exeter's Centre for Energy & the Environment as part of their South West Environment and Climate Action Network.

It tells you how people in the parish travel and heat their homes, and other activities in the area that contribute to the local carbon emissions total.

Battery operated equipment

Switch to battery operated tools. Battery-operated tools are more sustainable, and they do not rely on fossil fuel. They also do not produce carbon emissions, and they are not as noisy.

Biodiversity enhancement

Covid has highlighted the importance of open green spaces for our health and wellbeing. They can be havens for wildlife and include high nectar flowers for bees. We need to plant trees, shrubs, and flowers to attract insects and improve biodiversity and habitats.

Uttlesford tree planting scheme

The planting season has come to a close. In total 490 trees will have been planted, together with 450 hedging plants. Given the COVID pandemic, we consider that this has been some achievement. Without the efforts of Mark Felton and his grounds maintenance team in carrying out planting and the making of the tree deliveries to the parishes, this could not have been achieved.

Trees play such an important role for climate change, air pollution and biodiversity. They are one of nature's best 'inventions', offering song perches, nesting sites, safe retreats, blossom and foliage. They are the lungs of the earth and highways in the sky.

UDC tree planting scheme

Trees purchased and delivered to parish councils:

£1,958.95 (90 trees) Great Chesterford PC

£1,958.95 (90 trees) Wendens Ambo PC

£133.50 (80 trees) Hadstock PC

£194.00 (8 trees) Thaxted PC

£704.58 (30 trees) Clavering PC

£184.10 (5 trees) Felsted PC

£417.44 (17 trees)

A total of £4,010.01 (230 trees)

If your parish would like to be considered for the next round of tree funding, please email Ben Smeeden at

Install bird, bat and bug boxes and bee and bug hotels

As our environments have changed, birds and bats have suffered from a lack of suitable natural breeding sites, so the addition of a nesting or roost box can be a welcome refuge.

Bird boxes

Birds are quite specific in their nest requirements. If you are thinking of putting up a bird box, position is crucial. Make sure your nest box is in a sheltered position, facing north-east to south-east, to avoid prevailing wet winds and the heat of the midday sun.

The nest box should also be about 2m off the ground and away from overhanging branches to stop cats reaching the nest. Boxes can be hung from wires to discourage predators, but you must use four wires to ensure that the box will not spin.

Come springtime garden birds start the frantic search for materials to build and insulate the perfect nest. You can give them a hand by putting out suitable nesting materials. Try hanging bundles of straw, fine sticks, shredded woollen jumpers and bunches of grasses close to your feeding station. Your bundles should last through to the summer season of second broods.

Clean out the box out each autumn to prevent a build- up of parasites. It is important to leave it for a few weeks until the young have fledged as they may roost in the box for a while after they have left the nest.

Bat boxes

As well as being one of the most threatened types of mammal in Britain, bats are also among the most misunderstood. Far from being nasty dangerous animals, they are attractive small, furry insect eaters that need all the help they can get. Bats need a range of roosting sites, including summer daytime roosts, winter hibernation ones and breeding sites. You can help them find a suitable roost by putting up a simple bat box.

The best place to position a bat box is on a tree. Place them in groups round three sides of a tree - bats like to move from one box to another during the day and from season to season as temperatures change. It is a good idea to make sure the area near the box is relatively free of branches to give the bat a clear line of flight.

Try and put the boxes as high as possible above the ground to avoid predators. Some species, such as the noctules, prefer roosts at least five metres off the ground.

If you don't have trees in your garden, bat boxes can also be placed on buildings. A good position is under the eaves of a house as boxes are then sheltered from bad weather.

Bats can take a while to investigate new premises, but if your box is not occupied within three years, try moving it. You can check if the box is being used by looking for crumbly brown or black droppings on the ground

It is illegal to disturb any bat when it is roosting, or to kill, injure or handle a bat without a licence. If you find a sick or injured bat, please contact the National Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228.

Insects and other bugs and minibeasts are an important and fascinating part of the wildlife and they make their homes in all sorts of places.

Bug boxes

Bug boxes provide snug, safe places for insects to hibernate. Full of dark nooks and crannies and different structures, they're great fun to build and brilliantly replicate the kind of features lots of minibeasts and other animals look for in our gardens.

They are especially good for lacewings and ladybirds. These two species are very important in the garden as lacewing larvae and adult ladybirds and larvae consume insect pests. They avidly devour aphids!

Wood lice and hibernating solitary bees and wasps, may also take up residence at the stack.

Bee hotel

Bee numbers have been declining at an alarming rate in recent years and it's more important than ever for us to make sure our gardens are bee friendly.

Bees, wasps and hoverflies are just few of the broader names, of the many similar insects which inhabit our outdoor spaces. They're all important pollinators and all have different characteristics, needs and conditions we can help with when it comes to gardening.

For solitary bees, home-made bug hotels and wildlife stacks will provide a great place for them to live, lay their eggs and hibernate. Leaving natural homes for them, such as piles of dead wood and cut branches and plants, can also be very helpful.

Areas of south-facing bare earth can be good as well, to provide a place to bask, and for some, a spot to burrow and nest.


Hedgehogs are in decline in Britain and are now listed as "Vulnerable" on Britain's red list of mammals. According to the latest State of Britain's hedgehogs report, numbers of hedgehogs have fallen by up to 30% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas since the Millennium. They are brought to rescue centres with garden injuries (e.g. from strimmers, netting, dog bites).

Loss of nesting and hedgerow removal (rural) reduces the carrying capacity of the landscape. Hedgehogs may struggle to find somewhere to breed and hibernate, and to find enough food to survive.

Impermeable fencing and lack of connectivity through hedgerows can result in limited movement and isolated hedgehog populations. This can have genetic effects, and eventually the populations may become unviable and locally extinct.

Chemical treatment of land (e.g. pesticides, molluscicides, fertilizers) can perhaps lead to poisoning, but largely reduces invertebrate diversity and abundance. This can increase hedgehog mortality rates and impact fertility. There are also concerns over secondary poisoning from rodenticides.


One-third of the UK's bee population has disappeared over the past decade and 24 per cent of Europe's bumblebees are now threatened with extinction. Yet 75% of the world's food supply relies on pollinators. The need for more wild nature has never been more evident. Rewilding can help nature recover on a massive scale and shape a better future for people.

Wildflower sowing

The populations of many pollinators are in long-term decline due to a lack of flowering plants. This is a result of modern farming practices and paved, urban gardens. Yet, pollinating insects are vital for our crops. Did you know that:

  • the number of butterflies found in urban areas has fallen by 69% in the last 20 years, compared to a decline of 45% in the countryside.
  • in the last 30 years, two bumblebee species have become extinct in the UK.
  • in the last century, four species of butterfly and more than 60 moth species have become extinct.

By planting flowers for pollinators in community Nature spaces, it's possible for everyone to make a real difference and turn the tide on this decline.

Water butts

Over-abstraction of the chalk aquifer is having a detrimental impact on environmental conditions, particularly during dry seasons that may become more frequent due to the impacts of climate change. Chalk streams are both rare and sensitive. As a nation, we are custodian of more than 80% in the world. Last year, the Cam and the Ouse, were the only principle rivers in England rated by the Environment Agency as exceptionally low. Harvesting of rainwater is essential.


Compost is decomposed organic material, such as leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen waste. It provides many essential nutrients for plant growth and therefore is often used as fertilizer. Compost also improves soil structure so that soil can easily hold the correct amount of moisture, nutrients and air.

Why not set up a community compost scheme.

Five benefits of composting:

  • adds nutrients to the soil. Compost is humus—nutrient-rich soil.
  • introduces valuable organisms to the soil. Microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, decompose organic material.
  • recycles kitchen and yard waste.
  • reduces landfill waste.
  • good for the environment

Voluntary litter picking

Litter can be harmful to people, animals and the natural environment, as it can threaten their existence and evolution. Small plastic items are digested and circular plastic objects, are often found around the necks of wildlife, causing discomfort and in some cases death. Discarded masks and blue gloves are on the increase and a health risk to everyone.

Working with others in your community will harness local support for cleaning up litter. UDC can help to keep our neighbourhoods clean and tidy.

If you, your town or parish council would like to organise and carry out a voluntary litter pick in the district, Uttlesford District Council can loan you all the equipment you will require.

Our litter picking kits include:

  • litter pickers
  • high visibility vests
  • gloves
  • bags

We can also arrange to collect the litter you collect and dispose of it.

We have more information on our voluntary litter picking page.

Alternatively, purchase some litter pickers and organise a team of 'Litter monitors' to collect litter in key hotspot areas on a daily/weekly basis (when out walking their dog).

Local Plan

People and planet should be at the heart of the the new Local PLan. New developments need to make sure that housing is of a passive standard (or something similar), supply green spaces, food growing areas, community spaces and cycling and walking is now a priority - not travelling by car. They should be located close to amenities and public transport to avoid car dependency.

Call for sites and strategic land availability assessment

We have issued a call for sites as part of its work on a new Local Plan. Anyone may submit a site or broad location for consideration, and the Council will use this information when preparing draft policies and site allocations.

Please note: We are keen to receive site submissions for all types of land use, including - specifically -'green sites' which may have benefits in terms of accessible open space, biodiversity gains and/or carbon absorption.

Completed forms must be submitted by 5pm on Wednesday 21 April 2021.

Consultation and the Community Stakeholder Forum

We will be carrying out extensive engagement on a wide range of different themes, starting with 'Where you live' from 11 November 2020. This programme of 'mini consultations' will be aligned to the Community Stakeholder

Forum meeting schedule (described below) and is due to run until the end of May 2021. We will use all comments and ideas to inform our work on a draft version of the Local Plan.

Green spaces in your area

See how much green space your area has by using the Friends of the Earth greenspace access map.

Neighbourhood Plans

Neighbourhood planning provides the opportunity for communities to set out a positive vision for how they want their community to develop over the next 10, 15, 20 years in ways that meet identified localneed and make sense for localpeople.


Cllr Louise Pepper

Portfolio holder for Environment and Green Issues and Equalities