Cornwall

Italian tree planting in Pool 'a waste of council money'

London Plane trees, Tolvaddon Road, Pool Image copyright Google
Image caption The council said the London Planes were watered and cared for, but failed to grow "at a rate that was expected"

Importing trees from Italy to create a "boulevard effect" has been called a waste of taxpayers' money after they had to be replaced with European Acer trees.

The 29 London Plane trees, which cost £1,100 each, were planted by Cornwall Council on Tolvaddon Road in Pool.

The authority said they were chosen for being good in urban areas, but they did not grow as well as expected.

Former councillor Dave Biggs described it as a "£100,000 mistake".

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"The advice was very clear that the trees were unsuitable, but for whatever reason [the council] went ahead and ordered them from Italy anyway," he told BBC News.

Mr Biggs said the cost of buying, transporting, planting and maintaining the London Planes would have been in excess of £100,000, which the council could not afford to waste.

"I can't believe it's anything less than a £100,000 mistake... and for the life of me I can't understand why London Plane trees couldn't be sourced in the UK."

According to the Woodland Trust, the origin of the London Plane is uncertain, but is thought to have been brought to the UK from Spain in the 17th Century.

The council said it was unable to say why London Planes, which thrive in other UK urban settings, were used or imported from Italy, as the forestry team leader of the project in 2009 had since left the council's employment, however it said they were planted in 2010 "in accordance with recommendations".

It said that despite aftercare and watering, the trees had not developed "at a rate that was expected" and tree officers had recommended trialling some alternative species.

In a statement, it said the London Planes had been removed and replaced with 16 Acer trees at an additional cost of nearly £6,000.

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