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Campaigns update: ancient woods and fruit trees under threat

This month the campaigns team has quite the fight on its hands, from a housing development threatening veteran trees to shocking news on HS2. But, as ever, we know with your support we can rise to the challenge and make a difference for ancient woods and trees. Read on to find out more about the cases we’re dealing with and how you can help.

Housing in Herefordshire

We are concerned about the impacts of a housing development in Weobley on a number of veteran trees. Our ancient tree expert has identified several fruit trees that are veteran and would be lost as a result of the development. As such, we’ve been discussing the possible impacts with the arboricultural consultants. We will continue conversations with the consultants and look at submitting a further objection.

It’s vital to protect our veteran trees. A large veteran tree with large canopy cover can provide the same benefits as 60 small or young trees. And that’s without all the benefits they provide for us that can’t be replicated by young trees. For example, the shelter they give and the homes they provide for wildlife, such as large knotholes. Ancient trees are even more special - they are whole ecosystems within their own right. They provide niches for species that cannot live anywhere else. We must protect our veteran trees so they can continue to provide benefits and become the ancient trees of the future.

(WTML/John Macpherson) Ancient woods require buffers between them and developments
(WTML/John Macpherson) Ancient woods require buffers between them and developments

Bad to worse

We’ve also received bad news this month from two projects we have been working on.

Unfortunately, plans for a housing development in South Ayrshire that we objected to have been approved. This will result in damage to woodland at Rozelle Park near Ayr. This woodland is designated as 2b LEPO (Long-Established of Plantation Origin) on the Scottish Natural Heritage’s Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI). This means it should be protected from development. But as is often the case, the designation wasn’t enough to stop plans being approved.

We’ve also had devastating news regarding Phase 2a of HS2. Despite much petitioning, including from our own ecologist Luci, the HS2 Select Committee has opted not to tunnel under Whitmore Wood in Staffordshire, but instead plough through it. This will mean destruction of an ancient wood and a local community.

Ending on a high

Despite the disappointing results, we can end on a high with some good news this month!

Plans for Ware Park Quarry posed a risk to an area of ancient woodland in Hertfordshire. We objected as there were no suitable buffer zones between the quarry and the woodland. Buffer zones are vital to protect ancient woods from the ongoing impacts of construction and industry resulting from developments like quarries. Pollution and a wearing away of the edges of the woodland could occur without a buffer.

We are therefore pleased to hear that Hertfordshire Council has refused planning permission. Ancient woodland was not specifically mentioned in the reasons for refusal but impacts on the local landscape were highlighted. This decision will allow the woodland and its wildlife to continue to thrive, undisturbed.

We’re also thrilled to hear that 20 veteran horse chestnut trees in Branston, Lincolnshire, have been saved due to the diligence of one of our threat detector volunteers. The trees were at risk from being felled as they were alleged to be diseased by the landowner. Yet there was no arboriculture assessment undertaken to confirm this. The only option to get protection for these trees was to place a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on them. Our volunteer was successful in getting a permanent TPO placed on the trees by applying to the council, so they are now safe.

Help us fight back

It’s not too late for Whitmore Wood and the local landscape. We have launched a campaign asking Nusrat Ghani MP, the HS2 minister, to reconsider the tunnel option that will save this irreplaceable habitat. Add your voice and help us convince the Government to make the right decision.

Ask the HS2 minister to reconsider

Add your voice to our campaign