A 15-year programme of tree planting to screen the sight of planned high-speed trains hurtling close to Cannock Chase is being urged by council bosses.
The colour of trains should also be muted and “not garish”, it is claimed, in order to reduce the visual impact of the new rail line on the beauty spot, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The proposed track runs nearest to the AONB at its northern boundary at Great Haywood and Tixall. At its closest point, near Tixall Farm, it is less than half a mile away.
Now a special cross-party committee councillors has drawn up a list of recommendations to the Government, which is largely funding the project.
The Cannock Chase AONB joint committee, set up to protect the area, said the distance from the beauty spot meant the impact would be limited. Unlike Chilterns AONB, HS2 does not run directly through Cannock Chase.
But the fact the line would run on a series of embankments and viaducts would result in some visual impact on the area.
The group is calling on the Government to fully assess the likely impact by drawing up a landscape master plan covering the northern part of the AONB, including Satnall Hills and Etchinghill, and the proposed line. It also wants existing woodlands around the River Sow in Shugborough Park managed and, if possible, extended over the next 15 years, and new trees planted on land around the canal north of Great Haywood across to Tixall.
Councillor Gordon Alcott, who sits on the committee, said: “Measures to plant and establish woodland should be taken at least 10 years before construction of HS2 so that a screen is in place at the time of operation.”
The HS2 route emerges from a cutting through land around the village of Colwich to cross the A51, the existing railway line, the Trent and Mersey canal and the Trent Valley flood plain. Woodlands at Shugborough will largely obscure the views, while there are no views from the canal towpath at the Haywoods.
The committee has also asked that the colour of the trains be discreet rather than gaudy shades.