Ground Control has recognised the Head of Climate Adaptation and Mitigation at Essex County Council, John Meehan, as one of 26 UK-wide unsung eco champions who is taking pioneering action to tackle climate change and reverse nature’s decline.

To celebrate the award John joined Chris Bawtree, Woodland Creation Lead, Ground Control and Councillor Peter Schwier, Essex County Council’s Climate Czar, to explore the new ‘First Avenue’ and select a young Field Maple to be dedicated in his name.

‘First Avenue’, the first tree planting project to be undertaken at Ground Control’s Wildfell Centre for Environmental Recovery, is an avenue of twenty-six young Alder, Beech, Birch, Hornbeam, Field Maple, and White Willow trees planted to mark the COP26 climate conference.

Ground Control’s Evergreen Fund acquired the 296-acre Wildfell Centre site, formerly Gray’s Farm, in April 2021. The land is currently mainly arable and through this showcase nature recovery project it will be transformed with the creation of new woodlands, restoration of hedgerows and planting of wildflower meadows.  Ground Control aims to plant 150,000 trees by 2025 with many other projects like Wildfell, as part of our ambitious programme of native woodland restoration and ecological recovery.

Councillor Peter Schwier, Essex County Council’s Climate Czar, said:

“Essex County Council is delighted for Ground Control to recognise the work of John Meehan with the tree dedication at The Wildfell Centre for Environmental Recovery.”
“The Wildfell Centre is transforming ecologically degraded farmland to restore biodiversity with meadows, hedgerows and woodlands which everyone can enjoy, and which will contribute very positively to the county’s climate action plan to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. The addition of research facilities and hands-on learning opportunities for the community will make it a showcase nature recovery project for the county.”

Chris Bawtree, Woodland Creation Lead, Ground Control, said:

“As the UK starts a decade of accelerated climate action, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the inspirational Environmental Heroes who are already driving change and delivering positive action. As Head of Climate Adaptation and Mitigation at Essex County Council, John Meehan has been an inspiration to Ground Control and we’d like to share our sincere thanks by giving John this recognition.”

Essex County Council and Ground Control have worked together on several climate action projects including The Essex Woodlands project, with Ground Control providing woodland management to ensure the Essex County Council owned woodlands are thriving habitats for wildlife. Ground Control is a sponsor of The Essex Woodlands work project, which is also funded by Countryside Stewardship grants and funds from the Essex Forest Initiative. It is also supported by local volunteers.

Another partnership project is Chelmer Valley Wet Woodlands, a 12-acre woodland where 14,092 native and wildlife friendly trees have been planted to enhance the site’s biodiversity. The project is contributing to the Essex Forest Initiative, Essex County Council’s commitment to plant 375,000 trees over the next five years to tackle climate change. Chelmer Valley Wet Woodlands is a collaboration between Essex County Council, The Woodland Trust and Ground Control’s Evergreen Fund which dedicates 5% of the company’s annual net profits to environmental projects. The project also receives support from the Woodland Trust and the Forestry Commission.

John Meehan, Essex County Council eco champion