Er, wasn’t Christmas done and dusted weeks ago? The festive season may well be well and truly over but these festive trees have shown they still have a place on the Fylde coast almost six weeks since Santa’s annual big rush.
They might look out of place without a hoard of presents nestled underneath, but the trees have plenty more to give... as part of the area’s sea defences.
A team of around 10 volunteers turned up yesterday to help council staff bury hundreds of discarded trees on the beach – to reinforce the sand dunes and protect the coast against storms.
The unlikely protection measures will also help protect vulnerable homes and coastal roads by reducing the amount of sand blown into the highway from the beach.
A five-mile stretch of coastline, from Lytham to Starr Gate, will benefit from the creative defences that experts say have worked wonders in the past.
Two years ago trees were strategically laid out, half buried, to catch sand as it was blown by the wind.
The resulting sand dunes took an almighty beating at the hand of recent storms – that saw 80mph gusts batter the Fylde coast – but, crucially, they kept the waves back.
Where the dunes are not reinforced, the power of the wind and waves is plain to see.
Geoff Willetts, Fylde Council’s senior coast and countryside officer, said: “Where there is no protection, at Starr Gate, the sea has removed eight to 10 metres of dune – it is dramatic.”
Recycling staff at the council collected more than 700 trees this year and although some were sent to the wood-chipper, hundreds have been used to boost the sand dunes.
Alan Wright, of the Wildlife Trust, said: “These trees are going to act as another line of defence against the really bad weather we have been having.
“It has worked before and we are obviously going to do it again.”
Lynn Ashton, Lancashire sand dunes officer for the Wildlife Trust, said: “The Christmas trees have had a couple of feet of sand on them over summer as they were creating new dunes.
“That has been taken off but the established dunes behind them are not badly damaged.
“The vegetation is still showing its roots so it will grow quickly once spring arrives.
“Widening the dune system will help to reduce wind-blown sand problems on the highway, increase dune habitat and supplement sea defences.”
The dunes help to slow the wind as well as trap some of the sand, causing it to pile up further.
This widens the dunes, making them stronger, and also provides an important habitat for wildlife.