A NEW ‘Northern Forest’ stretching across the north of England from Liverpool to the Yorkshire coast? Sounds great, right?

It is hugely welcome. Just don’t expect it to be something it’s not. Under the proposals, revealed this week, 50 million trees would be planted across the north over the next 25 years.

These trees are badly needed. Britain has some of the lowest tree coverage in Europe. Just 10 per cent of England is wooded - compared to 31 per cent of France. Given the known benefits that trees bring - they’re good for our health and peace of mind; they scrub carbon and pollution out of the air; they’re great for wildlife; and they’re even good for the economy - this is deeply worrying.

The ‘Northern Forest’ won’t be a huge expanse of new woodland wilderness, though. Fifty million trees sounds a lot - but even placed all together, they’d only cover two per cent of Yorkshire.

What the Northern Forest will be is a series of small new strips and patches of woodland, lining busy roads, screening houses from industrial areas, ‘greening’ city centre streets and urban parks, and running in corridors along the banks of rivers.

Even this, however, could have huge benefits.

There’s nothing really new about the proposals - organisations like Treemendous have been taking just this approach to planting new trees in York for years. The £5.7 million the government has promised to ‘pump prime’ the project is, apparently, money that had been allocated for tree planting.

But the Northern Forest should give the myriad of organisations like Treemendous new impetus.

And if that leads to a significant number of trees being planted, that will be good for us, good for our economy, and good for the North.