APPG on Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees meets several times a year to discuss ancient woods and trees.
On 27 March, MPs will meet for the next meeting of the APPG on Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees. Recent moves within Parliament mean the APPG is now without a Vice-chair, so the meeting will be an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to welcome a new one. As this is an unusual situation, it is really important that as many MPs as possible attend the EGM.
The meeting's main focus will be about how updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is working (or not) one year on, and how this is being delivered by local councils and developers. They will also be discussing a bill to update the ancient woodland inventory, the potential threat to ancient woodland from the Oxford-Cambridge expressway, and how upcoming legislation can deliver for ancient woodland and veteran trees.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees met for its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday 16 October.
We asked you to encourage your MPs to attend this meeting, and thanks to your efforts, we were delighted to see new faces among our regular attendees. We need at least 5 MPs at the AGM to make it quorate, or legally justifiable, so the meeting couldn’t have gone ahead without your help. Your voice really does make a difference.
The meeting started with a vote to elect or re-elect officers of the group, with the following results:
- Rebecca Pow, Chair (re-elected)
- Angela Smith, Vice Chair (re-elected)
- Michael Fabricant, Vice-Chair (re-elected)
- David Warburton, Vice Chair (newly elected)
Celebrating positive policy changes
In July, the Government published the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This put the protection of ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees in England on a par with the best of our built heritage for the first time.
The APPG and Woodland Trust both worked hard to secure this change and the meeting took time to reflect and celebrate this. Shown right are (back row L-R) David Warburton MP; James Cooper, Woodland Trust; Rebecca Pow MP; Angela Smith MP; Lord Framlingham; Stephen Timms MP; (front row L-R) Lorraine Mullally, Woodland Trust; Michael Fabricant MP; Victoria Bankes Price, Woodland Trust (Photo: Victoria Bankes Price).
The group will be contacting MPs to highlight this policy update. Together we can make sure the changes make a difference in planning authorities across the country.
More work to be done
Members of the House of Lords, Baroness Young and Lord Framlingham urged the APPG to build on its success by pushing for more change.
Debate about some of the concerns and opportunities facing the UK’s ancient woodland was passionate and thoughtful. The group considered:
- the Ancient Woodland Inventory needs greater support. We’ll be urging the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to back the wider roll out of this valuable resource.
- emerging biosecurity threats and how they might affect ancient woods and trees. This must be reviewed.
- outline proposals for the £4bn Oxford-Cambridge Expressway and discussed what effect it might have on ancient woods in the area. We’ll keep you posted as we get more information.
Fighting the devastating HS2 plans
Worst of all, the latest HS2 plans have revealed that at least 19 ancient woods are threatened with direct loss – double our previous estimate. That takes the total number of ancient woods threatened with loss or damage by HS2 to an astonishing – and completely unacceptable – 108. Standing up for this irreplaceable habitat needs to be a priority.
Your voice makes a difference
You helped us to get more MPs involved in the APPG. You helped to make the changes to the NPPF. Now we need your help to protect the precious woods facing damage and destruction at the hands of HS2 Ltd. Your voice makes a difference. Use it to say no to HS2 plans and defend these precious woods.
This meeting took place on 24 April 2018. The Housing Minister at the time, Dominic Raab, attended so MPs used this opportunity to really press home to him how important it is that our ancient trees are given stronger protection in English planning policy, as well as our ancient woods. Find out more in our blog.
This meeting focused on changing planning rules to make the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland "wholly exceptional". The Government has promised to strengthen protection for ancient woodland in its Housing White Paper, a pledge backed by over 15,000 members of the public. The APPG discussed and agreed a number of actions on how they could ensure this is delivered in a way that works for our ancients. Rebecca Pow was also re-elected as Chair after the election. Read more about the meeting and the next steps in our blog.
At this meeting on 6 December an AGM was held to vote in new members of the group. SNP MP, John McNally was elected as co-Chair. He will now co-chair alongside existing chair Rebecca Pow. Mims Davies MP for Eastleigh who has been very strong in raising ancient woodland concerns in the House was also elected as Vice-Chair.
At this APPG, the Woodland Trust also presented the results of our recent survey to planners on ancient woodland which resulted in some interesting and lively discussion.
On 14 March, the second meeting of the APPG on Ancient Woodland & Veteran Trees took place at Westminster, supported by the Woodland Trust.
Our President, Clive Anderson, captivated those who attended as the keynote speaker and, following an update from the Chair, Rebecca Pow MP, Clive talked about where his love for trees and woodland came from with the MPs and Lords in attendance. He explained why it is vital that legislators recognise their importance so they can be protected for future generations.