Campaigns update: cycle tracks, a fishing lake and a new discovery

Good news just keeps as more ancient woods were saved this month, an ancient woodland was added to the official map, and our recommendations were taken on board.

Threats stopped in their tracks

We’re thrilled that proposals to create new cycle tracks within ancient woodland at Badbury Hill, in Oxfordshire, were turned down by Vale of White Horse District Council; had the plans gone ahead, they would have resulted in damage and loss to irreplaceable woodland.

This is a great win for ancient woodland which is often seen as a good place for leisure activities such as cycling. Undoubtedly these are beautiful places to spend time in, but they are sensitive and unique habitats. They can be negatively, and permanently, impacted by any major disturbance. The infrastructure that comes with leisure activities can also result in loss of the preserved soils that give ancient woodland its value.

More good news regarding plans to rebuild the delightfully named Fuggles Cottage and to excavate a new private fishing lake in Sandhurst, Kent. This activity would have resulted in loss and damage to ancient woodland in the vicinity so we’re pleased that permission has been withdrawn.

Discovering ancient woodland

England’s ancient woodland is mapped on the Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI), a great tool for planners and interested parties to check if an area is ancient woodland. We use the Inventory to assess whether planning applications will result in damage or loss to these habitats.

But a wood could be ancient even if it’s not on the Inventory. Ancient woodland indicators, such as bluebells or coppice stools, could be clues to the true nature of a woodland.

This was the case with Temple Wood in Chorley, Lancashire, which is currently threatened by plans to add a passing place to the nearby road. A supporter who let us know about the threat was certain it was ancient. We suggested that she let the Government’s advisers, Natural England, know, which consequently agreed that it was indeed ancient woodland and it will now be added to the Inventory. We will be objecting to the plans.

Suspect a wood is actually ancient?

Use Magic Maps to check if it’s on the Inventory and if it’s not, let Natural England know.

Priory Wood is home to some wonderful flowers and wildlife (Photo: WTML/ Sonia Gill)

Ancient wood a priority in Priory Wood

Earlier this year we sent in recommendations to protect ancient Priory Wood near Wakefield from changes to an existing campsite, involving replacing caravan pitches with static caravans and camping pods.

We suggested fences to protect the remaining habitat and signage to highlight the importance of the wood. Ideally this campsite would never have been set up in ancient woodland, due to the damaging impacts, so we’re pleased our suggestions have been taken on board in the planning decision.

Fowl effects

Chicken farms have become one of the most common threats to ancient woodland we’ve seen over the past year.

An eagle-eyed supporter alerted us to proposals for two poultry units next to one of our own sites, Easters Wood in Leominster.

Easter’s Wood is part of our Wood On Your Doorstep project and is set to become one of our Top 250 Welcoming Sites.

We’ve objected to the plans due to the polluting impacts from the high numbers of poultry. The birds  are likely to effect the fragile woodland ecosystem functions, and impact three nearby veteran trees; noise and the ammonia deposition are other concerns.

We also objected on the basis that this is community woodland; it should remain a pleasant place for local community groups and visitors who use and enjoy the site.

How you can help

Our Threat Reporter network ensures we have eyes on the ground across the UK, alerting us to potential threats to ancient woods and special trees. This is the main way we learn about woods and trees at risk.

Help us by keeping an eye on your local news and activity in your community in case an ancient wood or tree comes under threat.

Sign up to be a Threat Reporter and we’ll be in touch!