Nearly a million trees planted alongside A14 die and need replacing

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridge

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridgeshire have died, a council report has said. - Credit: © Terry Harris

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridgeshire have died, a council report has said. 

The tree planting accompanied the £1.5 billion roadworks scheme which increased capacity on the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon. 

Highways England says that for every plant that has “failed” it will be planting a new indigenous species. 

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridge

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridgeshire have died, a council report has said. - Credit: © Terry Harris

The highways agency said it removed around 400,000 trees and shrubs when carrying out the A14 roadworks. 

It said it then replanted 866,000 trees from a range of native species, “replacing the trees removed for the roadworks at a ratio of approximately two to one”. 


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But a report for Cambridgeshire County Council’s highways and transport committee on March 9 says: “Whilst there have been one million trees planted as part of the scheme, a large proportion have died off and are currently being replaced by Highways England’s contractor.” 

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridge

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridgeshire have died, a council report has said. . - Credit: © Terry Harris

The report says “young saplings are used rather than more mature specimens as the rate of success is known to be much greater”. 

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The report says: “It is important to ensure that these planted areas are successful as they provide significant environmental benefits for the scheme and local area”. 

Highways England is responsible for the planting and monitoring over a five-year period. 

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridge

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridgeshire have died, a council report has said. - Credit: © Terry Harris

A Highways England spokesperson said: “We delivered the new A14 to the highest environmental standards, and this included how we work when planting across our schemes.  

“As part of any scheme, we regularly monitor how successful planting has been with an experienced and qualified ecologist. 

“Some trees and shrubs flourish but others fail, which is why we carry out regular checks. We are now replacing the failed trees and shrubs and will continue to monitor the success of planting across the A14 scheme.” 

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridge

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridgeshire have died, a council report has said. . - Credit: © Terry Harris

The highways agency said the work on the A14 operates under a “permit to clear” system, meaning any vegetation is checked by an experienced and qualified ecologist before it is removed. 

The A14 Huntingdon to Cambridge scheme was fully opened to traffic in May 2020. 

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridge

A “large proportion” of the nearly one million trees planted as part of the A14 upgrade in Cambridgeshire have died, a council report has said. . - Credit: © Terry Harris

The county council says that whilst it is yet to experience normal traffic volumes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has provided “a significant improvement to the strategic road network between Cambridge and the A1” 


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