It’s the grandest effort yet to recycle Christmas trees and help preserve the sand dunes – and four years after being introduced, it is playing clear natural dividends.
Around 1,000 discarded trees have been ‘planted’ on St Annes beach by Fylde Council staff and volunteers as part of an ongoing scheme to minimise windblown sand on nearby roads and gardens.
It’s the biggest number yet, with some 500 having been picked up by Liberal Democrat volunteers around St Annes, while hundreds of others were left at a record number of 15 deposit points all over Fylde.
Twenty volunteers helped Fylde Council staff plant the former house decorations on the sands near the Trax Windsports Centre at St Annes’ north beach this week, with the site being chosen because a gap in the buildings has previously allowed sand to whistle through to the car park behind.
Geoff Willetts, Fylde Council’s senior coast and countryside officer, said: “This is the fourth year we have planted old Christmas trees to trap the windblown sand to encourage the dunes to move seaward.
“They are highly effective. Last year’s trees are almost completely buried in sand that would otherwise have been on roads and gardens. Most of the first trees we planted four years ago can’t be seen at all now. Thanks to residents and garden centres giving us old Christmas trees, we have been able to divert tens and possibly hundreds of tonnes of sand from roads by keeping it on the dunes.
“This acts as a soft sea defence when the waves are really high so thousands of residents are gaining by recycling their Christmas trees and by helping us plant them on the beach.”
Coun Tony Ford of Fylde Liberal Democrats, who was in charge of his party’s free pick-up around St Annes, said: “Although the pick-ups in St Annes began as a Lib Dem initiative in response to the closure of the local waste recycling centre by the Tories it has taken off - residents have benefited as has the beach and the sand dunes and locals are pleased they are doing their bit for the environment.
“We were delighted with the number collected this year - up by more than a 100 from 375 12 months ago – and it is great to see ever more residents involved.
“In addition, several businesses offered unsold trees or their own display trees to the project with Sopers of St Annes providing enough to fill one trailer all on their own.”
“People are pleased that their tree will be having a second life’ as part of Fylde’s dune management scheme to protect and stabilise the dunes and reduce the amount of windblown sand which plagues many properties.”
“Tree planting in previous years is really now being noticed as the sand dunes are becoming more stable.”