Campaigns update: some big wins and wildlife under threat

Sometimes here in the Woodland Trust's campaigns team it’s difficult to know we're making an impact. But then, within a couple of months, we have received government recognition that ancient woodland needs better protection and we gain two campaign victories under our belt. Sometimes good news comes all at once, like buses!

This all helps to remind us and our supporters that our work can make all the difference for ancient woods and veteran trees. As ever, we have more cases to fight but with our spirits lifted and with the overwhelming support from you, our supporters, we are motivated to keep going.

Park life

A park under threat and a holiday park posing a threat. These cases are certainly no walk in the park for the ancient woodland at risk.

A hybrid application consisting of both a large housing development and a relief road linking to it at Ashton Park, near Trowbridge in Wiltshire, has been submitted. The applicants have proposed buffers for some areas of ancient woodland but not offered the necessary buffers in others. They have stated that these areas conveniently shouldn’t be called ancient woodland. We also have serious concerns about the impacts on the large and varied bat populations that call this wood home, particularly the rare Bechstein’s bats.

In Wales, applicants wish to use an old quarry site to create a new holiday park. However, this will affect a number of ancient woods on the existing site. One of the key issues is that the location of some of the holiday lodges would mean direct loss to a Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site (PAWS), called Coed Maes-Mynan. Despite being areas often planted with conifers, PAWS are still precious and diverse sites that have the potential to be restored to their former glory.

Cause for contention

Ham Wood in Wales faces impacts from the siting of treetop tents on its site. These are essentially tent pods or large spheres that are hoisted off the ground just below the tree canopy. There will be negative impacts from the likely tree felling to accommodate the tents and the disturbance to ancient woodland caused by those using the wood whilst staying there. This would include disruptions like noise and artificial light. This is an important area for wildlife as otters have been seen in the watercourse that runs through the woodland. We will be sending in an objection.

Some we win..

I'm glad to be able to share not one but two big campaign wins with you this month!

Sheffield has certainly been in our bad books of late. However we’ve had some brilliant news in response to a campaign we ran last year on a potentially concerning proposal.

In October, the Woodland Trust responded to a consultation about flood management options proposed by the Environment Agency (EA) and Sheffield City Council. We were keen to respond as a couple of areas of ancient woodland were suggested as temporary flood storage areas. As ancient woodland is such a fragile habitat this would result in damage to the ground flora and trees. So we strongly objected to these areas being used for flooding.

In response to the consultation, the Council and the EA have decided to drop the options to flood the ancient woods. Great news! It also looks like we will be involved in future discussions on flood management in Sheffield so we hope to make a positive impact here.

You may remember the Begbie Wood case was one of many chicken farm applications we tackled last year that threatened ancient woodland. It posed a serious threat due to ammonia pollution and so we objected and ran a public campaign. Over 700 supporters took part online, sending in their own objections to the proposal. Thanks to those who took part the planning application was turned down!

But it’s not over yet as this is only the first stage and now the application is set to go through the appeal process. We’ll be watching closely.

How you can help

These cases highlight that current planning policy is letting our precious natural heritage down. But the current Housing White Paper consultation being run by government gives us a real chance to achieve real protection for ancient woodland. In the Housing White Paper, government agreed that ancient woods need better protection, now we need to make sure they implement this in practice.

Find out more and add your support to our Save Our Ancients campaign