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Anger at Christmas tree burials in Porthtowan sand dunes

By WBEsme  |  Posted: January 08, 2014

Dune erosion at Porthtowan, courtesy of Chris Smith.

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A Porthtowan community group has hit out at Cornwall Council’s “crack-pot idea” to bury old Christmas trees in the village’s sand dunes.

The Porthtowan Dunes Group, made up of local business owners and residents, has spoken out against this Saturday’s tree burying event.

It is hoped that the scheme will help to secure Porthtowan’s eroding sand dunes and provide an important habitat for wildlife once marram grass seeds are planted in the spring.

But the pressure group has said it has received no evidence to back the council’s claims and fears the scheme will be another in a long line of costly prevention plans which haven’t worked.

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In a letter to Cornwall Councillor Joyce Duffin and community network manager Mark O Brien, the group said: “We believe the Council are in danger of simply replicating the damage done over the past years with ill thought out schemes which plainly failed to solve the problem.

“Continuing with the same piecemeal, short term approach of tinkering with different bits of the sand pile is simply firefighting”

Group member and business owner, Chris Smith, is also concerned that the burying scheme is masking the real problem of a lack of sand on the beach.

He said: “We have toyed with this issue for years and we have seen the sand dunes get out of control, consequently there is no sand on the beach as it has spread on to the green and the road.”

Due to a European directive, much of the sand blown on to the nearby green and road has to been taken to a landfill site rather than being returned to the beach.

“The beach is literally being carried away and dumped inland, and this tree burying idea is just another crack-pot idea from the council.” Mr Smith added.

Instead the group has suggested that resources should be invested in to putting sand back on the beach before the creation of a proven sand defence.

But Cornwall Councillor Joyce Duffin is still backing the project and believes that it is widely supported and valuable to the village.

The councillor has said that the use of natural materials is a sustainable way to prevent sand movement and the burial of the trees will be the first step in the process to secure the dunes.

She added: “The whole idea of stabilising the sand is to prevent it from blowing on to the road. If we don’t do it now we will have to wait a year.

“That’s the way the sand wants to blow so by putting the Christmas trees on the dunes we are trying to prevent it.”

The Christmas tree burial event will take place at Porthtowan beach on Saturday between 10am and 3pm.

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  • Anyone  |  January 08 2014, 10:43AM

    @The Geofflane The sand would need to be treated before it could be used for building, and the council does not have the facilities for this. Also, how do you know the christmas trees and marram grass together will not work? where is your evidence to support this? If Porthowan's wind blown sand was regularly collected and returned to the beach it would be of more benefit, especially to the eco system of the beach. Porthtowan is NOT just a surfing beach, people regularly swim there and many can be seen on the beach in summer with their families. I, actually ,have regularly fished from the beach and surrounding area. Too often people comment on articles with nothing to back their arguments up with.

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  • TheGeofflane  |  January 08 2014, 10:28AM

    You have more sand than you know what to do with. Whenever there's a threatened flood we see desperate people digging up their beaches, or council-delivered heaps, to fill sand bags. If Porthtowan's excess wind-blown sand was regularly collected and bagged, the council would have an adequate regular supply for emergencies and could also sell to builders. In the past I have watched council tractors transporting sand back to cover pebble areas on the beach. Usually just before Easter. Complete waste of money. It's a surfing beach, not bucket-and-spade. The sand problem won't go away and could actually be put to good use. Marram grass works, vertical Christmas trees won't and sooner or later someone will step on a protruding tree, and sue.

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  • Anyone  |  January 07 2014, 11:26PM

    There is nothing wrong with burying the tree in the dunes. Together with the marram grass they will help to stop the erosion of the dunes, and the loss of even more sand. Perhaps the community group should come up with a credible solution of their own, rather than decry the efforts being carried out by the council. @ The Geofflane, what cornish industry is losing out by this scheme????? The council still shreds the tree in other areas for compost.

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  • TheGeofflane  |  January 07 2014, 10:53AM

    More enlightened councils recycle Christmas trees by either shredding them for compost or giving them to zoos (they are like catnip to lions). I am no expert on sand dunes, but putting it back on the beach is futile. Mine it and sell it wherever it interferes with tourism. But in Cornwall industry always loses out to the great God 'Tourism'.

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