Leak reveals plans to turn Eiffel Tower into 'giant tree'
The iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris could be set to become a flagship for ecotourism, after a leak reveals a firm wants to turn it into a "giant tree" by draping it in around 600,000 plants.
As part of the controversial plans, leaked by French newspaper Le Figaro, engineering company Ginger confirmed it wants to hang plants around the tower using hemp poles attached to the structure until June 2013.
The plants would then be left to grow until July 2016, when they would be removed.
A spokesperson for Ginger said: "The project was confidential but the schedule indicated by Le Figaro is right."
Ginger has estimated that the project would give off 84.2 tonnes of CO2 and absorb 87.8 tonnes, making it "carbon positive".
However, as yet, the plan has not been approved by Paris City Hall, or the tower operator Societe D'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE), which put out a statement saying "there is no project of this nature in preparation" in response to Le Figaro's headline: "Crazy plan to 'plantify' the Eiffel Tower".
In response to Le Figaro's report, which said that Ginger had been working on the Euro 72m project for two years, French authorities also issued a statement on Wednesday (November 30) denying that that the 327 metre structure Eiffel Tower would be turned into a 'tree'.
However, Le Figaro reported that a prototype several metres tall had already been built by architects and engineers to assess the effect of an additional 378 tonnes weight on the structure.
If the proposal to 'green' the tower is successful then seedlings would be cultivated until June next year, before being hung on the tower, with the plants placed in bags of soil hanging from hemp ropes attached to the tower's steel structure. Twelve tonnes of rubber piping would be used to irrigate the vegetation.
Commenting on the plans, city councillor and president of the Eiffel Tower Jean-Bernard Bros, said: "You can't stop people having ideas", adding that "nothing has been finalised, nothing has been studied. I had knowledge of this project along with many others, people suggest new ideas for the Eiffel Tower to me every day".
Following criticism of the project, Ginger, issued a statement defending its plans, which it said would "symbolise the reconciliation of nature and mankind".
"Should it not be the duty of engineers to imagine a new future where nature is brought back into the heart of the city", Ginger added.