Minister Hackett welcomes Virgin Media’s renewed Low Carbon commitment as group announces Tree Planting Partnership with VEON Forestry

From Broadband to Broadleaf - Virgin Media’s new initiative will increase native tree cover and benefit native wildlife, in addition to ongoing wider climate action measures.


Friday, 11th December, 2020 - Ireland’s leading broadband, cable and television group Virgin Media has today made a further major commitment to climate action by starting the planting of over 50,000 trees which will be completed early next year.


Virgin Media has partnered with forest management experts VEON to help boost national tree-planting and support the fight against climate change.   Local communities, farmers and the environment will benefit from Virgin Media’s native tree planting initiative supporting sustainable forest planting. 


This is part of a much bigger climate action programme in which Virgin Media has committed to achieving the Low Carbon Pledge with Business in the Community Ireland, aiming for a further 50% reduction in Virgin’s carbon footprint by 2030.  Virgin Media Ireland has already achieved a 23% reduction in carbon emissions since 2017.


Virgin Media’s sustainability action programme includes a 100% switch to renewable energy, together with deploying solar energy panels across key technical hubs, more energy efficient consumer hardware, improved data centre cooling systems and the commencement of electrification of the company’s vehicle fleet.  Other areas include gradually removing non-eco consumables from our supply chain and to continue to offer products and experiences that use less power, reduce emissions, and cut down on waste.


Over 50,000 native broadleaf trees will now be planted creating new native woodlands in Counties Sligo and Leitrim, with further projects planned in 2021.  This initiative is designed to replace coniferous forests and to replant with a richer, more diverse forest thereby increasing broadleaf tree cover in Ireland with species such as oak, alder, birch and rowan.


Welcoming the initiative, Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett said, “This is a great initiative by Virgin Media in partnership with VEON. Trees are a precious natural asset, and woodlands and forests will play an important role in Ireland’s efforts to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  Native woodlands also have a key role to play in habitats and biodiversity support.  The Government’s target for new afforestation is approximately 22 million trees per year, or 440 million trees by 2040, and efforts through corporate responsibility programmes will be hugely important in achieving these targets.  Sustainability initiatives, including investment in native woodlands, building on the Woodland Environmental Fund and the Woodland Creation on Public Land schemes are welcome developments, further contributing to the achievement of these goals.”


Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media said: “We all know urgent action is needed to tackle climate change. Virgin Media has already made great progress and now we’re accelerating our initiatives to contribute directly to Ireland’s climate action targets.  We’re excited about continuously building a more environmentally sustainable company that’s why we committed to the BITC Low Carbon Pledge where signature companies commit to reduce direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.  We’re focused on sustainable innovation across a broad range of areas such as energy consumption, emissions, waste reduction, more energy efficient products, increased use of recycled materials and our intention is to smash the 50% reduction target well ahead of schedule.


“Our partnership with VEON and local landowners will plant over fifty thousand trees in Sligo and Leitrim with further planting to follow in other locations around Ireland. Today’s forestry announcement will deliver a reduction of approximately 12,000 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of the forest with additional projects planned in 2021.” 


Joe Codd, Director of Business Development at VEON said: “Woodland creation is an excellent way to help combat the effects of climate change.  Supporting farmers and landowners who decide to invest in tree-planting will help support climate action through nature-based solutions.  By planting more native trees and creating new native woodland, forest owners also provide a range of other ecosystem benefits such as preventing flood risk, soil conservation, protecting wildlife and boosting biodiversity. This has a very positive effect on local communities by enhancing the natural environment.  VEON is delighted to be working with Virgin Media in this new venture. This initiative supports and encourages conifer forest owners, close to the end of their rotation, to replant with native broadleaves.