England's largest woodland planting scheme for 30 years has been given the green light.

The new forest will span the equivalent of more than 650 football fields and will be planted at Doddington North Moor in Northumberland,

The Forestry Commission has approved plans for more than 600,000 trees being planted to create a new 350-hectare forest.

The scheme is intended to help to enhance populations of the iconic red squirrel, while storing over 120,000 tonnes of carbon and helping to manage flood risk in the area. With the forestry and timber processing industry a major employer in the region, the project is also set to bring a boost to local businesses and will generate a number of new jobs.

It joins another successful project that has just been approved this week in the Lake District, with government funding helping the Lowther Park Estate plant more than 200,000 trees over 170 hectares of their land.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: "Doddington North Moor will make a significant contribution to our drive to plant 11 million trees across the nation and is a fantastic example of the kind of tree planting schemes we want to see more of. I hope this will signal a wave of similar projects to come forward and help other landowners realise the benefits of woodland creation."

Richard Greenhous, a director of the Forestry Commission said: "We have worked very closely with the applicant, Natural England and the Environment Agency to help shape this important project into something we can all be proud of. We stand ready to support more large scale woodland creation projects that will deliver the government’s and the forestry sector’s ambitions to plant more trees across the country."

Planting at Doddington is expected to begin in March 2018 and will be phased over the next two to three years.

Under the Countryside Stewardship scheme landowners can apply for up to £6,800 per hectare to plant more trees, reaping the environmental and financial benefits of woodland creation. Improvements have been made to this scheme this year to make it easier to apply.

Funding is also available for larger scale projects via the £19million Woodland Carbon Fund. The threshold for minimum applications for this funding has been recently reduced to 10 hectares, so that more projects can take advantage of this support.