“It’s not OK for the Welsh Government to offer two options, both of which are contrary to its policies, and ask the public which precious ancient woodland should be destroyed,” says Campaigner Sam Packer.
The Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw), the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, has expressed its exasperation as the Welsh Government announced yesterday that it proposes to drive a new road through beautiful and irreplaceable ancient woodland between Northop and Flint, known as Leadbrook Wood or Oakenholt Wood, contrary to its own policies.
The Welsh Government’s consultation on the scheme earlier this year offered two options in its A55/A494/A548 Deeside Corridor improvement study, a Blue Option and a Red Option, both of which would destroy ancient woodland. Ken Skates AM, the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, announced yesterday that the Government would support the Red Option.
The Welsh Government’s own Planning Policy Wales document is clear in stating that: “Ancient and semi-natural woodlands are irreplaceable habitats of high biodiversity value which should be protected from development that would result in significant damage.” What’s more, the Assembly has written the principle of maintaining the natural environment into law through the Well-being of Future Generations Act. This implies that infrastructure projects should be exemplars of good environmental practice, not destructive proposals where people are asked to choose which precious ancient woodland should be destroyed.
Sam Packer, the Woodland Trust’s Campaigns Officer in Wales says: “We’ve been hugely concerned about these plans since they first saw the light of day and we made this clear in the consultation in June. The Assembly has written the principle of protecting natural environment into law in the Well-being of Future Generations Act, so it’s not OK for the Welsh Government to offer two options, both of which are contrary to its policies, and ask the public which precious ancient woodland should be destroyed. The Woodland Trust will be standing up for Flintshire’s irreplaceable ancient woodlands and holding the Welsh Government to its own policies. We’re inviting anyone who’s keen to support us to join our campaign by visiting woodlandtrust.org.uk/campaigning”.