Pylon fight back! East Anglians urged to plant tall trees to stop Gov’s electricity plans

East Anglia: Local residents campaign against building of pylons

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The project is called the GREEN project. It aims to upgrade power lines as well as connect new offshore wind farms off Essex. This is part of a plan to generate 40 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and will bring the UK closer to green energy targets. However, many locals are unhappy about the project. A petition has sprung up, asking signees to say not to the pylons, suggesting a strategic offshore grid instead. So far 19,071 people have signed.

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We do, of course, need the power, but at a time when other areas of the UK are removing pylons to restore the landscape’s natural beauty locals are questioning the wisdom behind the proposals.

Gardeners and landowners are drawing up plans to plant substantial swathes of trees and woodlands in the way, and get these new wildlife havens protected status.

The work required could dwarf the Queen’s Green Canopy project, which invited people across the UK to “plant a tree for the Jubilee”, but the idea is gaining pace on social media.

The tree project is where I come in. If your outlook is likely to be blighted or your own property is going to be affected if the scheme is not overturned, here are my top picks of tall and fast-growing trees that will reach heady heights and grow fast to help you.

Paulownia tormentosa – rate of growth up to 12ft a year

Also known as the Foxglove Tree, this is a highly ornamental hardwood, that produces attractive heart-shaped leaves up to two foot wide and large panicles of mauve flowers that resemble those of a foxglove.

It is often used in tropical-style gardens and cut down each year only to reach eight to 12ft or more again within a season giving a lush tropical feeling and a great backdrop to borders.

Leave this unpruned and you’ll quickly have a tree 40 to 50ft tall with a canopy at a similar spread, some specimens however have been reported as tall as 80ft. That will certainly create some seclusion.

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Eucalyptus gunnii – rate of growth five to eight feet a year

This hardy cider gum is a lovely Australian evergreen with glaucous blue-green foliage, and if you do not prune it, expect it to reach 120ft tall.

As well as being favoured by koalas in its native home, this variety also produces a sweet sap that can be tapped in a similar way the Canadians do for maple syrup. Aboriginal people of Australia are said to ferment this to make a cider-like alcoholic beverage – hence the common name of Cider Gum.

Not tall enough for your needs? Choose Eucalyptus viminalis or Eucaluptus globus – both of these grow to a height of 160ft – that’s as tall as the proposed Pylon scheme. However, in ideal conditions, they can sometimes reach as tall as 300ft.

Sequoia sempervirens – rate of growth up to five feet a year

Officially the world’s tallest tree, the Californian or coastal redwoods can reach a colossal size in time – the world’s tallest specimen being some 379ft tall.

Long-lived, plant these, and they could still be standing in 2000 years’ time! They’re good for more exposed sites, yet remain evergreen.

Young trees form a graceful pyramidal shape and will be 30 to 50ft within 10 years, and 100 to 130ft after 50 years.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides – growth rate three feet per year

Not the fastest growing on the list, the magnificent Dawn Redwood is one of the only deciduous conifers in existence.

It originates in China and can grow up to 90ft tall, but one specimen has been known to reach 120ft tall in just 30 years. The feathery foliage is gorgeous, turning an orange-red shade in autumn before they fall.

Acer rubrum – growth rate two to three feet per year

Known as the Red Maple, this again is not the fastest growing one on the list but makes the cut due to the magnificence of its scarlet red autumn foliage typical of any New England picture postcard in their ‘fall’ season.

It also reaches 40 to 60ft tall in time, tall enough to block out the sight of a pylon, but it will take 20 to 30 years to reach this.

Robinia – growth rate three to five feet per year

The False Acacia tree comes in various forms – there’s a green-leafed faster-growing one, or a golden foliaged variety “Frisia”.

It can complement gardens with beautiful summer foliage and gorgeous white or pink flowers. All varieties will grow in poor soils and can tolerate dry conditions once established. It will typically reach 100ft tall in 20 years.

If felled, the False Acacia’s timbre can endure for up to a hundred years due to a high concentration of flavonoid pigments that make it resistant to rot. The tree is disease and pest free too.

If you need to find out more and check the map of the pylon routes or submit your comments on the plans, social media, MP’s, and the National Grid itself are the places to head.

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