Airport volunteers plant 1,000 trees

A group of volunteers from Stansted Airport have dug out their gardening gloves and spades to plant a thousand trees in an area in north-west Essex.

More than 30 security officers, engineers, airfield operations and customer service staff teamed up with Volunteer Uttlesford to help plant the saplings in a 10-acre site at the Bridge Meadow Donkey Sanctuary in Widdington.

Over the course of three days, the volunteers planted various native trees, including silver birch, hazel, larch, scotch pine and eared willow.

The project forms part of the airport's sustainability and community outreach work and it’s the first major staff volunteering project since before the COVID lockdown in 2020. 

Sam Lomax, Environmental Specialist at London Stansted, said:

“This project was scheduled to take place in March 2020, but it had to unfortunately be postponed due to the pandemic.

“However, now the restrictions have eased, we're delighted to be out and about in the community, putting our skills to use.

“We do a lot of great work to maintain and improve our biodiversity across the airport site and we want our staff engaged in our work, and projects like this really help with that.

“While there are restrictions for planting trees near an airport, we teamed up with Bridge Meadows Donkey Sanctuary to deliver this project in the local area.

“We have received a biodiversity baseline from the Essex Wildlife Trust so we can continue to monitor the area's progress as it develops in the months and years ahead.

“At London Stansted we have committed to zero net loss of biodiversity. This means initiatives such as this one ensures that the airport grows in a sustainable way and benefits the local community at the same time.”

Employees at the airport are encouraged to offer their skills and time on a voluntary basis to strengthen ties in the communities where they live and work, and to support their own wellbeing.

Enthusiastic planter Vanessa Phipp, who works in Airfield Operations and lives in Newport, said:

“It was a great opportunity to bond as a team and spend some time away from the office, as well as representing the airport in the community and contributing to such a worthy community project.”

Although staff could not participate in group volunteering projects during the pandemic, they still volunteered thousands of hours in the community on an individual basis.

While the airport operated at a much-reduced capacity, airport staff rolled up their sleeves to provide essential services in their communities.

Activities included taking food to local foodbanks, delivering medication to the elderly and vulnerable, and preparing food for NHS workers.

Staff also helped as Patient Transport Drivers, Community First Responders, Special Constables, and at the Nightingale Hospital in London.