Drovers Wood is so named because of a nearby public trail that was once an ancient sheep drovers’ route into Hereford.A mixture of new planting and veteran oak trees, this Woodland Trust site, established in 2000, is a much used green space for many local residents. This could soon be brought to an end, however, if new road building proposals are approved.
Hereford County Council is consulting until mid-March on seven route options for what would be a western bypass road around the town. Two of the routes (Black 1 and Black 2) both propose taking a large slice out of our tranquil woodland. Like many in the local community, we’re appalled at the prospect.
Speaking up for woods
Recently we took the opportunity to meet with those designing the scheme. We expressed our concerns for our woodland, other nearby woodland and the many important veteran trees that currently sit in the path of all seven route options.
Dealing with the road building proposals is a community effort; many others in the area are also applying pressure. Indeed, one of our neighbours stands to lose part of the UK’s most important rare breed apple orchard.
We are realists that do not oppose new roads per se and we do accept that road building is necessary despite its negative environmental implications. However, in this and all cases, we are staunchly opposed to any that will see loss of ancient woodland and veteran trees. Irreplaceable habitats simply should be avoided, especially when other options are available. In this instance we remain to be convinced that any of the existing options will deliver this.
Time to rethink
Not all of this is negative. It’s clear that the council has done much to avoid the direct loss of ancient woodland and will attempt to avoid veteran trees. This is to be commended, but nothing more. It now needs to go a step further, refine the details and come back with something that is both holistic and environmentally sound. If it doesn’t, the banners and posters of opposition that hang on many trees in the town will simply grow, just as the affected woods and trees should be allowed to do.