VILLAGER Alex Hickman, who started a tree planting scheme by going undercover to place new ones in a guerilla-style operation, has seen the project grow and gain government support.

Mr Hickman, who lives in Wilsford, near Pewsey, said: “The project has grown over the last five years.

“It started with me and a neighbour guerilla planting around the village of Wilsford on spare bits of land.

“Since 2014 over 40 people have helped to plant 5 km of hedges and over 2,000 trees around Wilsford - with the support of local landowners.”

He is now appealing for volunteers to take part in more planting which is due to start again in early December.

He said: “We hope a lot more people will want to become involved.”

He said most of the trees had been supplied free by the Woodland Trust and the project has expanded to neighbouring villages.

He said: “This year we will plant another 5km of hedging and 500 trees in seven villages. We are planting along footpaths as a way of marking and cherishing these much loved connections between our communities. It’s an idea which seems to charm and motivate people.”

Backing for the project came from Michael Gove when he was DEFRA secretary of state and also from Devizes MP Claire Perry.

Mr Hickman said: “ DEFRA civil servants are studying it as they design the Environmental Land Management scheme, the UK’s post-Brexit land-owner subsidy regime.

“We are now working out how we scale it even more - across Wiltshire and beyond.

“It’s a great way of pulling together communities and giving people something positive to do to enhance their landscape, creating wildlife corridors and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.” Contact Mr Hickman on