A GIANT black pear tree taller than the Angel of the North could welcome people to Worcestershire as they drive along the M5.

The iron and steel landmark – the idea of a group of mystery businessmen who see it as a way of putting the county on the map – would be 21 metres tall, one metre higher than the Angel of the North, near Gateshead.

The plan, which it is thought will cost about £1.5 million, was presented at yesterday’s meeting of Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet.

Queen Elizabeth I is believed to have commented on the local black pear trees when she visited Worcester and planted one during her stay. The black pear later became the symbol of Worcestershire and is on the coats of arms for the city and county.

Your Worcester News understands a farmer has already said the structure can be put on one of his fields off junction six or junction seven.

Visitors will be able to stop off and admire it using a car park containing between 50 and 100 spaces.

Simon Tipple, manager of tourism organisation Destination Worcestershire, said: “It would be a fantastic celebration of the county and would certainly be a good thing. The more we can do to increase awareness of Worcestershire to the public both domestically and abroad can only benefit the county.”

Mike Ashton, chief executive of Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce which has already been consulted on the plans, said: “It is a great idea. We are proud of our county and this is a nice way to welcome people as well as making the area distinctive to visitors.

“It would be really good if local businesses were used to supply parts needed to create the sculpture.”

Worcestershire County Council leader Councillor Dr George Lord, who revealed the plan during yesterday’s cabinet meeting, said: “I have seen the model of the proposal and it’s quite an ambitious idea. It’s not going to cost us a penny – it’s to be privately funded.”

As things stand the trunk of the ‘tree’ would be black in colour while the ‘leafy’ parts would be a dark brown. Five or six black pears made of iron will hang from the branches for the public to see.

Speaking to your Worcester News after the meeting Coun Lord said he was shown the model last week and added the businessmen, who were not available for comment yesterday, are completely serious about the idea.

He said: “This idea is something salutory. It would give Worcestershire a lift.

“It has come out of the blue. I know the guys met after a church service and wrote the idea down on the back of fag packet and developed it from there.”

An application has not yet been submitted but one will need to go to before planners at either Malvern Hills or Wychavon district councils depending on which field they choose.

Coun Lord said he was now helping to put the businessmen in contact with people who he thinks might help fund the project.

Also speaking after the meeting Mr Tipple said the Angel of the North had had a “phenomenol” impact on tourism and trade in the north east and thought the giant black pear tree, something he described as “key to the county”, could do the same thing for Worcestershire.