As you will know, the Forest of Marston Vale Trust is a local charity which exists with the aim of creating woodlands.  We work with communities to plant trees across the 61 square miles of Bedfordshire known as the Forest of Marston Vale, making it a thriving place to live, work and play.

Today, it has been announced that the Environment Agency has granted the Covanta/Veolia partnership an environmental permit to begin building a new Energy from Waste facility in Rookery South, a former clay pit adjacent to the Forest of Marston Vale’s Millennium Country Park.

With local residents’ heightened awareness, we’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate our position on all developments within the Forest area.

Retaining neutrality

Since the Trustee board’s decision in 2005, our position as a charity has been to remain neutral on all development throughout the Forest of Marston Vale area – whether large or small. You can read more about our Forest Planning Policy here

While we will support development that directly meets the objectives of the Forest, we always remain neutral on individual planning applications so long as they do not directly conflict with the aims of the Forest. It is the planning authorities at local or national levels which decide if an application goes ahead, not us.

Our two local authorities state in their planning policies, that any development within the Forest area should contribute to the creation of the Forest of Marston Vale.

Wherever development is planned within the Forest area, we work with the developers and local authorities to help secure a contribution to the creation of the Forest – which allows us to be able to purchase more land or plant trees to continue our work creating more woodland as part of the Forest of Marston Vale.

Over the years, we have secured contributions of around £3m, helping us to create the 10 wonderful community woodlands which are open today across the Forest of Marston Vale. Creating and maintaining woodland is expensive – as there’s a lot more to it than simply planting trees.

As a result of the contributions received to date, we have already planted over one and a half million trees – but we still have a long way to go in order to reach our target of planting 5 million.

So we take each development very seriously indeed to ensure they contribute to the continued creation of the Forest – and Covanta is no different.

Covanta’s contribution

Covanta has committed to funding both on-site and off-site tree planting, as well as an annual payment of £50k to a ‘Forest Creation Fund’ as long as the Energy from Waste facility is running. That money will be held in a restricted fund that can only be spent on creation of the Forest.

We have not received any of this money and contributions will only be received once the site is operational. It is our job to ensure that the developers deliver on the contributions they have already agreed, for the greater good of the communities in the area.

Our role

As nominal custodian of the Forest of Marston Vale’s 61 square mile area, it is our job to ensure that any development that occurs does not directly conflict with the aims of creating the Forest. But ultimately we are not the planning authority – and we therefore don’t have the authority to prevent developments occurring in the Forest.

What we can and will do is ensure that any development in our local community offsets its impact by helping to create woodland now and for the benefit of future generations.

You can view the official Environment Agency fact sheet about their decision by clicking here.

If you would like to speak to someone in more detail, please email our CEO Nick Webb who will be able to answer your questions.