Planner’s Manual for Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees

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Authors: Publication date: Publication type: Pages:
2017 Practical guidance 14
Planning for Ancient Woodland, practical guidance report

Ancient woodland is an irreplaceable habitat, each one at least 400 years old. Yet an unacceptable number of ancient woodlands are currently under threat from development in England. This manual helps planners embed ancient woodland and aged and veteran trees into plan making and decision taking.

Ancient woodland and veteran trees are irreplaceable. But it is still possible to undertake high quality development that respects and responds to the precarious nature of our ancient woods and trees. This document covers a comprehensive range of issues relating to ancient woodland, veteran trees and planning.

Please note
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for England was updated on 24 July 2018. There is new wording around ancient woodland, and ancient and veteran trees, which should be adhered to:

NPPF paragraph 175 states:
When determining planning applications, local planning authorities should apply the following principles:
c) development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees) should be refused, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons[58] and a suitable compensation strategy exists;

Footnote 58 states:
For example, infrastructure projects (including nationally significant infrastructure projects, orders under the Transport and Works Act and hybrid bills), where the public benefit would clearly outweigh the loss or deterioration of habitat.

Proposed development that does not fit these criteria should be refused on the grounds it does not comply with national planning policy.