It’s said that in life, you lose some and you win some. But our most precious woods can’t take much more: across the UK they are increasingly under threat from insensitive development. We simply can’t afford to lose any more of them, and new planting will never balance the scales. So when it comes to protecting ancient woodland, we must always strive to win.
After discussion with Woodland Trust Scotland, Graham Simpson MSP suggested that we request a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) from North Lanarkshire Council in an attempt to prevent development on an ancient woodland and protect the trees on site. Our present was delivered right before Christmas, when the council agreed. According to the regulation, the TPO is in place for six months. The news is public and anyone wishing to make any representations or objections has 28 days from the publication date to do so. The council has six months to assess any responses, and decide if the TPO can then remain in place permanently.
For this site, the TPO means that it is safe – for now. The proposals for a huge EuroPark included approximately 2600 homes, retail facilities such as motorway services, hotel and other facilities – all around the woodland. In fact, the developers have even failed to identify the complete area of ancient woodland in their publicly available exhibition banners showing the proposed settlement. You can imagine how concerning this has been to the local community and to tree lovers like us.
Edge effects can devastate
Development can impact ancient woodland in many ways. While direct loss of trees can devastate the habitat, indirect effects of soil disturbance, light, noise, traffic and waste pollution can cause permanent damage. The negative ‘edge effects’ of the adjacent M8 development are already visible in part of the woodland edge. Even considering development around this area of precious ancient woodland will simply not do. The whole Green Belt area is an oasis, much needed and enjoyed by the local community. This area should be enhanced for the wellbeing of the local community, who deserve a healthy and attractive place to live and work in.
I was lucky to get the chance to walk through the woodland one icy morning before Christmas. I attended a photo opportunity organised by the local campaigning group which is fighting to save the Green Belt, and was greeted by a dozen people of all ages, as well as Graham Simpson MSP who was there with the freshly-elected leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Richard Leonard MSP. Both are against this development, which gives further strength to the local campaigners to keep on fighting.
This TPO is certainly a step in the right direction. It was put in place at the right time, and it can help ensure approximately 30 ha of woodland remains standing and is protected.
So you see when we say “Enough is Enough”, we really mean it. Last year, thousands of you wrote letters to Government ministers asking them to ensure better protection for our ancient woodland. In Scotland, this received a very positive response. In the meantime, the EuroPark developers should be looking for a more suitable site for their plans.