Campaigns update: precious parkland, street trees and updates on HS2

This month the campaigns team have seen a local community protect their street trees, a precious parkland under threat and a challenge in Taunton. 

Protecting all our natural heritage

Our work isn’t just about protecting woods with lots of trees. We fight to protect all manner of habitats that relate to ancient woodland. These habitats include ancient trees and, as in this case, wood pasture and parkland. Wood pasture and parkland is a mosaic of ancient habitats including veteran trees, old woods and undisturbed grasslands. Similar to ancient woodland, its status emanates from the undisturbed soils that have allowed these complex ecosystems to develop and thrive over centuries.

The wood pasture and parkland of Hulton Park in Bolton is under threat from a planning application for an 18-hole golf course and a 1,000 house development. To accommodate the new golf course, the landscape and character of Hulton Park would be forever altered. Over 11 hectares of old woods are set to be destroyed, and large areas of important grassland will be replaced by fertilised, monocultural fairways and greens. This is of huge concern to us with such a large and unique area of wood pasture and parkland at risk from destruction. We shall be sending in a strong objection.

Hulton Park is at risk of destruction from housing and a golf course. (Photo: WTML/D. Rodway)
Hulton Park is at risk of destruction from housing and a golf course. (Photo: WTML/D. Rodway)

Roads and Railways

Infrastructure projects continue to be a bane for ancient woodland. HS2, an ongoing battle for us, has seen the next section of the route confirmed. There are also a couple of threats from new road projects.

HS2

Earlier this month the route confirmation for Phase 2B (Birmingham to Leeds, Crewe to Manchester) and the environmental statement for Phase 2A were released. This now brings the potential total of woods suffering loss or damage to 98. The current figure may still rise further as the Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI) is updated and more route details confirmed. You can read our initial thoughts on the news in our press release, ancient woods now face damage.

Henlade Wood

Plans for a new stretch of road and road improvements on the A358 near Taunton will likely negatively impact on four areas of ancient woodland. One of these woods, Henlade Wood, is owned by us. As well as damage and potential loss to ancient woodland, the new section of road will result in severe fragmentation of the landscape and disruption of wildlife corridors. This prevents wildlife being able to access new areas in search for food and breeding opportunities.

Arundel

There may be further troubles down the road for ancient woodland with a proposed A27 bypass around Arundel on our radar. Highways England are putting the route options out for consultation in September and we are concerned there may be significant loss of ancient woodland. Watch this space if you live in this area as we may well be in touch to ask for your help to protect this precious habitat.

Winning for woods and trees

It’s always a reward to see our hard work and that of our volunteers pay off. We’ve had a couple more successes this month.

We’ve heard back that plans for a proposed skywalk and treehouse in Ryde, Isle of Wight, will not be going ahead. We originally sent in an objection due to the potential loss and damaging impacts to ancient woodland from construction and ongoing use of the walk and treehouse. It would also disturb resident bats in the area. Isle of Wight Council rejected the application based on these grounds.

Some of the work of the campaigns team centres on the plight of street trees which have been undergoing quite the onslaught lately in the UK, especially in Sheffield. However, there is good news as this project has now seen its first community success. We worked with local residents by providing support and encouraging them to respond to proposals to remove trees on their street in Trafford, Manchester. The trees will now be kept and engineering solutions considered for each tree when road resurfacing takes place. This experience highlights the importance of responding to consultations, that people can be moved to action when they know what to do, and that neighbours need to work together.

Find out more about our street trees project.

How you can help

The wood under threat team’s work as outlined above is vital to protect ancient woodland habitats, but they are tackling symptoms of a wider issue. This firefighting can never solve the root of the problem. Essentially, these habitats need stronger protection in planning policy.

Prior to the election, government recognised in the Housing White Paper that ancient woodland requires stronger protection. However, we have yet to see the changes implemented in policy that will give them the protection they need. Help us convince government to take the final step to ensure ancient woodland habitats get the protection they deserve.

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