The Woodland Trust says it is delighted ancient woods and trees in Hereford have been saved after two controversial road schemes were scrapped. 

The decision to scrap Hereford Southern Link Road, which already had planning permission, and the Western Bypass which had been through preferred options stage, means centuries old habitats will no longer be destroyed or damaged. 

The southern project was set to destroy much of Grafton Wood and another unnamed wood, and cause indirect damage from disturbance, noise and pollution to the ancient Hayleasow Wood, which is also known as Newton Coppice. A number of ancient and veteran trees were also at risk. 

The preferred route for the western bypass would likely have indirectly affected two ancient woods – Hunderton and Rough Coppice - as well as several ancient and veteran trees. The route would also have gone through a road lined with notable lime trees and also through wood pasture known as Belmont Abbey.

Nicole Hillier, campaigner at the Woodland Trust, which submitted formal objections to the local authority, said:

“This is fantastic news for the ancient woods and trees of Hereford, not to mention the flora, fauna and fungi that relies on them for survival.

“Ancient woodland is one of our rarest habitats and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. It accounts for just 2.4% of land in the UK. Ancient woodlands are highly complex ecological communities that have developed over centuries.

“The loss or damage of these centuries-old sites would have been catastrophic for the environment as they could never have been replaced, even with new planting. We are grateful to Herefordshire County Council for their decision and would like to thank all those in the local community who campaigned alongside us for their unwavering determination to save these woods.”

The Trust remains cautious about an eastern bypass that’s on the table under new transport package proposals and will be scrutinising maps to see what impact there will be on ancient woods or ancient and veteran trees.

Notes to editors

For media enquiries please contact Dee Smith in the Woodland Trust press office at deesmith@woodlandtrust.org.uk.

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims: 

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free.