HC Deb 08 May 1963 vol 677 cc415-7
32. Mr. Dance

asked the Minister of Transport what plans he has for planting trees and shrubs along motorways and new trunk roads to help them to harmonise with the surrounding country, to act as windbreaks, and to make a contribution to reafforestation.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Planting of trees and shrubs to integrate the new motorways and trunk roads with the surrounding countryside is undertaken in accordance with the recommendations of my right hon. Friend's Advisory Committee on the Landscape Treatment of Trunk Roads. Planting is selective and is not intended to make a major contribution to reafforestation. We do not propose to plant trees as windbreaks.

Mr. Dance

Why is my hon. and gallant Friend so averse to these windbreaks? Anybody who uses the motorways knows that conditions can be extremely dangerous when there is a high wind. I have been trying to persuade him to agree to ordinary windbreaks, and I now put the suggestion of these screens. Will he reconsider the matter and accept that the three benefits mentioned in my Question could be quite substantial?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Our advice is that the use of trees as windbreaks is not really practicable for both engineering and amenity reasons. To be effective, the trees would need to be planted two or three deep throughout the exposed length. The maintenance of the trees would be costly and gaps would cause dangerous local air currents. I agree with my hon. Friend that cross winds can be dangerous on these roads, but we think that the proper remedy is for drivers to adjust their driving to allow for this.

Mr. G. Wilson

Does my hon. and gallant Friend accept that experience on the German autobahnen is that, if one plants too many trees alongside the road, there are dangerous soporific effects on drivers travelling long distances at night?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I have heard of this but I have had no personal experience of it.

Mr. Bockway

How does the hon. and gallant Gentleman reconcile his Answer with the reply which I have had from his office that trees will be planted along the M.4 in the neighbourhood of Slough both for purposes of beauty and amenity and to serve as windbreaks, and that there will be discussions with the parks superintendent of Slough?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

So far as they may serve as windbreaks, that is incidental. The policy for landscape treatment is to plant indigenous trees and shrubs at selected places to help the roads to merge into the general countryside. The Committee aims also to emphasise pleasant views and screen those which are unpleasant.