ENVIRONMENT minister Thérèse Coffey has today opened a £5 million cutting-edge glasshouse at Delamere Nursery.

The two-and-a-half-acre facility, near to the golf club, is set to boost timber production thanks to its tight environmental controls creating better growing conditions for its four million seedlings.

It boasts computerised environmental controls, rainwater harvesting from the glasshouse roof into a 15 million-litre capacity lagoon and a boom irrigation system, which allows accurate watering and can apply fertiliser and chemicals.

Ms Coffey said at the opening: "It is wonderful to be here to officially open this impressive new structure which will help ensure our forests are stocked with trees in a more sustainable and productive fashion.

"The forests and woodlands that these trees will go on to be a part of are vital for providing timber, protecting wildlife, and helping us improve our environment for the next generation."

Completed in December 2017, with the first seeds sown in March 2018, it is anticipated that the glasshouse will be fully stocked with a mix of species and ages by 2020.

Simon Hodgson, chief executive at Forestry Commission England, said: "I’m delighted our minister officially opened our new forestry glasshouse today. This significant investment demonstrates how committed we are to the nation’s forests.

"The largest glasshouse dedicated to forest trees in the UK means that Forestry Commission England will be able to plant around five million of the very best trees every year in the nation’s forests for timber, recreation and wildlife as well as supplying trees to Scotland and Wales.

"We are increasing the diversity of tree species we plant so the nation’s forests are resilient; protecting them from pests, diseases and the effects of a changing climate.

"I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work in making this project a reality."