Trees to clean up wasteland

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Poison-eating trees are being developed to help clean up Britain's industrial wasteland blighted by toxic pollutants.

Some of the first sites pinpointed for "bio-remediation" are currently so toxic that anyone entering them has to wear a full protective suit, face mask and breathing equipment.

Under the "green-tech" project the trees are to be used to absorb from the soil pollutants like lead, cadmium, mercury, copper, zinc and boron. The trees would then be felled to enable the land to be utilised. Plots of willow, poplar and alder have already been planted in the Black Country to identify the most effective species.

The "clean-earth" project has been launched by the Wolverhampton based National Urban Forestry Unit, which has picked three sites near the M6 motorway, in the heavy industrial belt, for mass planting as part of the Black Country Urban Forest (BCUF), a pounds 10m Millennium programme to improve the quality of life in the West Midlands. Two million trees will be planted in the UK's most ambitious "greening" programme.