Nature's Arc FAQs
The Trust doesn’t advocate for development or support infrastructure projects like the Ox-Cam Growth Arc.
When it comes to forming our position on new development, we make careful assessments of the impact of each specific proposal. We use the information available to us to determine whether plans will affect ancient woodland or ancient and veteran trees. This informs our opinion and resulting actions, such as campaigning and lobbying.
No. We’re not in collaboration with any government bodies or developers in relation to the Government’s Growth Arc project. We created the Nature’s Arc principles in partnership with:
- the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
- Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.
They outline how natural habitats like woods can be protected and restored in this area, rather than destroyed by development.
Many of those involved in the production of the principles are local people who care about the area and the future of its natural environment.
The Trust also commissioned a survey of 1,000 local people to help inform our thinking and approach.
Plans for most of the development within the Arc are at an early stage:
- Road: the major new Expressway has been paused before any route selection. Alternatives are being considered
- Housing: local authorities have yet to outline plans for locating one million new homes
- Rail: only part of the East-West Rail link route has been confirmed and developed.
As plans are submitted for various elements within the Arc, we’ll be able to assess impacts on ancient woods and trees and respond accordingly. We will oppose any plans that involve loss of irreplaceable habitat, especially ancient woodland and trees.
The Nature’s Arc principles aim to encourage decision-makers to consider nature from the start of any development project. They need to create plans that cut across council boundaries to better protect and recover nature.
We believe early engagement with local and central government is important. This way we can help avoid potential impacts of development on irreplaceable habitat. Not everyone is willing to engage with us and protect nature, which can result in destruction of habitats and impact on wildlife. HS2 is a good example - a different approach to this project could have seen a route that avoided irreplaceable habitats like ancient woodland.
Our vision puts sustainability and protection and restoration of nature at the heart of plans for development in this area.
If we want to get through to those making big decisions about development and encourage them to do more for nature, it helps to speak their language.
We engage with national policy and legislation to push for a better approach to development. When responding more locally, we look to influence outcomes that result in:
- planting more native trees
- restoring more ancient woods
- absolute protection of irreplaceable habitats.
We’re actively seeking information from Highways England on the proposed route for the Expressway.
A previous Highways England assessment found 383 ancient woods within 2km of the road’s identified corridor options. If plans for the Expressway go ahead, they could affect some of those 383 ancient woods.
But right now, development of the Expressway is on hold while alternative road options are considered. As such, it’s impossible to say exactly how many woods could be at risk.
We’ll be scrutinising any future Expressway plans closely for possible impact on ancient woods or ancient or veteran trees. If any of these habitats are under threat, rest assured we will oppose the plans strongly.