24 Feb 2011

Forests not safe yet!

I gave a cautious welcome to the U-turn on the Forest sell-off. A review into Forests by the government is forthcoming, but in addition to concerns about what the review might throw up there are also renewed threats to our ancient woodland. The big concern now is in the planning guidance for developers and councils.

The Observer at the weekend reported that there have been more than 850 attempts in the last decade to fell ancient woodland – planting that dates back to at least 1600. It is claimed that such moves will be revitalised if the planned vaguer, simpler rules go through. Sign petition here and more importantly send an email here  to Alan Scott, in the Department for Communities and Local Government re the planning changes.

Rules toughening defences against the felling of ancient woodland were brought in six years ago by the Labour government, which described the ancient trees as "a living cultural heritage, a natural equivalent to our great churches and castles". The government denies that its proposed "easier and clearer" advice to local authorities risks any such damage, but this is not what woodland experts are saying. They argue we need to "Save PPS9" - the clause among the government's 25 planning policy statements (PPSs). 404 areas of ancient woodland were the subject of current planning applications that "could physically damage them, break them up or destroy them. There is less than a week of public consutation to go on the planning reforms so please take action.

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