Campaigns update: you lose some, but you win some too

We've been involved in two quarry applications this month and we've launched a brand new campaign on a holiday park this week.

When quarries threaten ancient woodland it can be a difficult battle, as we’ve seen with two of our biggest public campaigns from the last six months. Finally, we have heard the outcome.

Brickworth Quarry, Wiltshire

We’re devastated that despite all our efforts to protect over 20 hectares of ancient woodland at Brickworth Quarry in Wiltshire, the application was approved last week.

This means a huge area of ancient woodland will be lost including the rich variety of flora and fauna existing here including many rare species. As a Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site (PAWS) this is still an ancient habitat and it had the potential to be even more special had it had the chance to be restored to its former glory.

Now this precious irreplaceable habitat will be lost forever.

Over 3000 local supporters sent in their own objections alongside our own. Thank you to all of you who took part, helping us to send a powerful message. We lobbied both publicly and behind the scenes but it wasn’t enough to sway the minds of the Wiltshire councillors making the decision. It was six votes to three.

As the site was previously allocated in the Local Minerals Plan, this made it easier for the application to be pushed through. Unfortunately, a short-term economic argument overrides the needs and benefits of our natural heritage once again. This is certainly a concerning result and could even set a precedent for future cases.

Quarries permanently damage woodland and wildlife (Wikimedia Commons/P Saunders)

Tirpentwys Quarry, Torfaen

People power can make all the difference. Over 1,000 objections were sent in as part of our campaign to prevent an access road at Tirpentwys Quarry at Torfaen, Wales. This would have caused three hectares of ancient woodland to be permanently lost.

We were thrilled to see that the Council’s planning committee rejected the proposal. Even better, the reason for the decision was solely down to the fact that there would be loss of this precious habitat.

Thank you to all of you who took part, we couldn’t have done it without you.

Hollicarrs Holiday Park

Our latest campaign is to save Holicarrs Wood in Selby, North Yorkshire.

Owners of an existing holiday park set in ancient woodland wish to add a further 67 caravans, that in reality will be static lodges, to this woodland, which is PAWS. This would result in damage and loss to six hectares of ancient woodland.

You might assume caravans and lodges could not be that damaging, and encouraging people to enjoy woodlands can only be a good thing. However, the unique ecosystems that have built up over centuries in the soils of ancient woods are fragile and cannot be recreated. Holiday lodges, related infrastructure and high concentrations of footfall, noise, artificial light and litter will be devastating for this habitat. These woods should be allowed to thrive undisturbed so wildlife and future generations can continue to enjoy these unspoiled natural spaces.

Hollicarrs wood is not an appropriate place for caravans or lodges so we have sent in an objection.

We're inviting locals to join the campaign

Greater protection for ancient woodland

Cases such as these are symptoms of a wider issue - ancient woodland simply does not have enough protection in planning policy.

You may have seen our campaigns to change that policy, in particular, the recent Housing White Paper consultation. In this the government recognised that ancient woods require better protection and suggested raising their status to be in line with greenbelt and national parks. However, we felt this didn’t quite go far enough, as planning policy wording that supports protection (or the lack of it currently) remains unchanged.

The consultation and our campaign to ‘Save Our Ancients’ smashed our target, gathering over 15,000 submissions to the consultation. A huge thank you to everyone who took part! Find out what’s next.

How you can help

We heard about the Holicarrs Wood application because one of our amazing Threat Reporters who let us know there was a wood under threat in their area.

Having volunteers on the ground with their eyes peeled will help us find out about threats we have no other way of knowing about. Much of our campaigning work depends on this.

Become a Threat Reporter or if you’ve seen something that concerns you, report a threat to ancient woods or veteran trees