FORGET about predictions of a white Christmas – one conservation group is aiming to make the festive season “green” this year.

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According to figures, eight million Christmas trees are bought and thrown out in the UK each year, producing 12,000 tonnes of waste.

So the Sudbury-based environmental group, Woodland B.A.T.S (Bio-diversity Around Towns Scheme), has come up with the idea of “renting out” live Christmas trees so that they can be re-used next year.

The group has being growing the festive specimens at their tree nursery in Chilton on the outskirts of town, set up earlier this year on land donated by Suffolk County Council.

Alongside the Christmas trees are native species such as oak, ash and yew which are grown to a certain size before being moved to suitable locations.

Group chairman Peter Clifford said: “I think it’s possible to hire an artificial Christmas tree but as far as I know, we are the only people in the area renting out real Christmas trees.

“I have managed to keep Christmas trees going for years at home by planting them in my garden in between seasons. So as an eco-group, we felt that hiring trees which can be used for many Christmases to come would be the ultimate recycling.”

The trees, which are about 4ft tall, are all organically grown and come with good roots and already potted. They can be hired for a fee of just £5, with a £10 deposit, and all come with care instructions and a date upon which they need to be returned.

Mr Clifford added: “Provided they are well looked after and well watered while indoors, there is no reason why the trees should not be returned to the tree nursery to be used again next year.

“All we do ask though is that customers take off the decorations before sending them back!”

If people cannot bear to part with theirs when Christmas is over, trees can be purchased for £15 and planted in the garden. All money raised from the initiative will be used by Woodland B.A.T.S to support its work planting new trees and creating wildlife habitats in and around Sudbury.

According to Mr Clifford, the idea is already catching on and demand for the trees is high. But those that are still available will be displayed outside Sudbury Town Hall on Market Hill during the Christmas lights switch-on this Friday from 6pm.

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