By HARRIET ARKELL
A village green in a Cotswold beauty spot has been partly replaced with artificial turf after the grass was being ruined by crowds of tourists.
A 100sq ft patch of public land between a path and the river Windrush in the picture postcard Gloucestershire village of Bourton on the Water was dug up and replaced with imitation glass.
Councillors in the village, known as the 'Venice of the Cotswolds', voted to approve the scheme in September after spending £1,000 each year repairing grass which had been trampled by hordes of visitors.
They considered several different areas in which to trial the long-lasting fake grass before choosing one small patch most popular with sightseers photographing the river where it is crossed by several attractive low bridges.
Richard Johnes, chairman of Bourton on the Water Parish Council, said the patch had been looking 'threadbare' before the work.
He said: 'I think it's a very good selection for a particularly problematic area.
'The feedback we've had so far has been very positive. The fact people have been walking past without noticing it is artificial is excellent.
'I think it's blended in remarkably well. We will just wait and see how the trial period progresses before we make a decision about other problem areas.'
The installed turf, made by Easigrass, won a gold medal at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show earlier this year.
It is hoped it will help the council cut down on repair costs as it is expected to last for 10 years before it needs replacing.
But Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife, was not so enthusiastic about the new grass.
He said: 'I hope they assessed the impact on wildlife because I can't imagine that the beetles and the birds are going to enjoy foraging around among nylon turf very much.'
Bourton on the Water is known for its pretty High Street and wide greens, as well as its model village that dates back to the 1930s.
Other local attractions include Gifford's Circus, the Cotswold Motoring Museum, and a model railway.