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Campaigns update: hope for the future

We’ve seen our fair share of threatened ancient woods and trees this month. We've lost some battles. But with new planning policy providing better protection, we are hopeful for a change in fortunes. Developers will have to fight a lot harder to justify damaging England's irreplaceable habitats. Rest assured we'll keep fighting back!

A big win on planning policy

After two decades of campaigning and the monumental lobbying effort from our supporters, we are thrilled with the Government's updated National Planning Policy Framework. Ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees in England are now protected from development unless there are wholly exceptional reasons, i.e. if the project is of national significance. This won’t halt infrastructure projects such as road schemes and HS2, but it's a huge step in the right direction for ancient woods and trees.

An application that would have impacted Bishop's Knoll has been rejected (Photo: Paul Glendell/WTML)
An application that would have impacted Bishop's Knoll has been rejected (Photo: Paul Glendell/WTML)

A mixed bag for the South West’s veteran trees

We received good news this month that Bristol City Council has refused an application for four houses next to our Bishop’s Knoll site. The development would have harmed our site, including damaging the roots of a valuable veteran oak and causing long term damage.

Over in Cheltenham, an application for 90 houses has been approved. Seven special trees were set to be felled, but after we and others campaigned against the plans, they were revised. Four veteran trees are now safe from felling – although their roots will still be impacted by the housing build – and we are still concerned for the loss of a veteran tree and two ancient trees.

We were alerted last minute to an application for a 44 hectare housing development in Almondsbury, Gloucestershire. This affected the ancient Haw Wood and destroyed veteran trees, so we sent an eleventh hour email to the planning committee asking it to protect the woods and trees. Unfortunately the application was still approved.

Hope for the future

A case with more hope is a proposal for 68 holiday lodges in ancient woodland at Bulbury Woods Golf Course in Poole. Armed with the new policy wording, we have strongly objected - the lodges will significantly impact the whole habitat and clearly aren't a wholly exceptional case.

You can help

Do you live in Wales and have a keen eye for threats? We’re looking for Threat Detectors across Wales to help us defend ancient woods and trees. A Threat Detector played a pivotal role in one of our objections above, so you really can make a difference!

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