Trees planted to slow down Norfolk drivers

Stephen PullingerIn a pioneering attempt to get to the root of speeding in MNorfolk, lines of trees are to be planted alongside roads in Martham, near Great Yarmouth, and Mundesley, Overstrand and Horstead in north Norfolk.Stephen Pullinger

The message soon to be sent out to drivers in four Norfolk villages is: Trees-y does it.

In a pioneering attempt to get to the root of speeding, lines of trees are to be planted alongside roads in Martham, near Great Yarmouth, and Mundesley, Overstrand and Horstead in north Norfolk.

The �70,000 trial, based on the theory that drivers slow down if their side views are restricted, is seen as an environmentally-friendly solution more suitable for rural villages than speed bumps.

The scheme, which will involve a range of native trees, including oak, field maple, birch and hornbeam being planted later this month, is the latest initiative in a two-year �1.5m project, sponsored by the Department for Transport, to try out new ways of controlling speed in the Norfolk countryside.

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A recent trial in Filby, near Yarmouth - soon to be extended to nearby Rollesby - involved sticking 'Slow down in our village' signs on wheelie bins.

Kevin Allen, who is leading the latest project for Norfolk County Council, said: 'We are looking to do planting as motorists enter the 30mph limit of the four villages.

'The aim is to create a gateway effect so drivers are aware they are entering a village. We are also looking to plant trees in areas where there are properties on one side of the road and open fields on the other side.

'It is known that cars tend to slow down when there is development on both sides of the road, but this is the first time an attempt has been made to restrict drivers' peripheral vision by planting trees and hedges.'

Mr Allen said part of the thinking was that by enhancing the look of villages with trees, motorists might realise people care about their community and drive more carefully.

The trees will be 4m high when they are planted and take 10 to 15 years to fully mature.

Mr Allen said: 'We have generally had very positive feedback from villagers with just the odd issue about trees possibly blocking views from windows.'

He said the aim was to avoid the urbanising effect of speed bumps which 'jarred with Norfolk's rural landscape'.

To accentuate the difference between rural roads and the county's main routes - making drivers more aware they should treat them differently - the verges of a number of A roads were being stripped back.

Elizabeth Belcourt-Paffett, vice-chairman of Mundesley Parish Council, said: 'There is a general feeling that cars travel too fast through the village. This scheme has the advantage that it will improve the look of the area.'

Mike Huke, chairman of Martham Parish Council, said: 'The parish council thoroughly approves of this. Anything that can reduce speeding has got to be worth a try and this will also improve the appearance of the area, softening the approaches into the village.'

He said it was also good for the parish that the scheme would pay for maintaining the trees for 15 years.

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