The chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council has been able to see first-hand the potential for damage to the environment by a failed tree-planting project along the newly constructed section of the A14.

Last month, Graham Campbell, chair of the Great Ouse Valley Trust (GOVT) contacted The Hunts Post to raise concerns about the negative environmental impact of the National Highways project.

He told the newspaper that many of the 860,000 trees planted by National Highways had died, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of non-biodegradable single-use plastic tree guards.

Unless removed, these tree guards will litter the side of the dual carriageway indefinitely.

In response to the criticism, National Highways told The Hunts Post “the plastic tubes will be recycled and used again for the replanting programme starting in the Autumn".

CCC chairman, Cllr Stephen Ferguson said: "Although I welcome this news, I am sceptical about National Highways' commitment to the project, given that thousands of similar plastic tree guards have littered the verge of the A428 for over two decades after its construction.

"Graham Campbell and Ian Jackson from the Great Ouse Valley Trust recently took me on a tour of the grass verges of the dual carriageway section of the A428 just outside of Cambourne to illustrate the seriousness of this problem.

"Some of the tree guards are still wrapped around the trunk of mature trees. Others have split and now litter the side of the verge in their thousands."

The Hunts Post: The results of a recent litter pick along the A428.The results of a recent litter pick along the A428. (Image: GOVT)



Mr Campbell added: “National Highways policy is to remove tree guards afterthree to five years, and yet here we have thousands of pieces of non-biodegradable plastic littering the verge of the A428 after more than 20 years.

"These tree guards are damaging biodiversity, cluttering the countryside and harming animals. We are running out of patience with National Highways, who don’t seem to be following their own policies.”

The Ouse Valley Trust and Cambridgeshire County Council say they will now watch carefully to ensure National Highways take their environmental commitments more seriously.