In January this year, we told you about a temporary tree preservation order (TPO) which came to the rescue of an area of ancient woodland threatened by a large proposed development. Named EuroPark, the planning proposals consisted of 2600 homes and associated facilities in Calderbank, right next to the M8.
What does all this mean?
At the suggestion of the regional MSP, Graham Simpson, we applied for a TPO for the area to support the local campaigning group Save Woodhall and Faskine Greenbelt. According to regulation, if an application is accepted by the local authority, TPOs are instated temporarily, allowing for anyone who wishes to make a representation (essentially to object) to the TPO to do so within 28 days of the date the TPO is announced. Then six months are allowed for the representations to be considered by the local authority. In this case, no representations were made so now the TPO is permanently in place.
Better woodland protection achieved through the tools available in the planning system box
With a permanent TPO in place, the woodland area and trees cannot be felled. Doing so would be an offence, unless permission is explicitly given by the planning authority for health and safety reasons. North Lanarkshire Council has been very generous in granting a large area of ancient woodland this designation. Normally we would see TPOs awarded to individual trees, so we are very pleased with this result.
Our councillor tree champion for North Lanarkshire, Cllr Ian McNeil, has spoken against the proposed EuroPark development. He has been very supportive of the local campaigners trying to protect the area, and has expressed gratitude to the Woodland Trust for assisting in preserving the valuable green resource adjacent to the village.
Planning system and environmental protection
This news also comes at a good time as the Local Government and Communities Committee of the Scottish Parliament has published its Stage 1 report on the Planning Bill. This calls for better environmental protection, amongst other recommendations for improving the planning system, such as ensuring a fairer planning system with the overarching purpose to achieve sustainable development – a planning system for the economy, for the environment and for society. Woodland Trust Scotland is working on the Planning Bill with other environmental NGOs through Scottish Environment LINK. You can help by signing our online campaign.
As for the EuroPark development, we are still monitoring the weekly planning lists. Our local threat detector volunteer there is on the case as we wait for the developers to submit their planning application, but we are hopeful they will find a better place for the site which is not on designated green belt land or ancient woodland. We are also advocating for a planning system which should be clearer and fairer, and does not allow for areas such as the ancient woodland at Calderbank to be lost to inappropriate development.