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Ancient woodland needs protection, but government assurances ring hollow

The loophole that put our precious woodland at constant risk of development remains in national planning guidance

Source:  Copyright 2012, Guardian
Date:  April 5, 2012
Byline:  Austin Brady
Original URL: Status ONLINE
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The fate of Oaken Wood, near Maidstone in Kent, could well become a significant test of the government's revised national planning policy framework (NPPF), issued last week. At stake, under a single application for the extension of an existing quarry, is 32 hectares of ancient woodland, home to rare lady orchids, firecrests and nightingales. Under pressure from conservation groups including the Woodland Trust, and thanks to the efforts of local campaigners, Eric Pickles, local government secretary, called in the controversial application in July last year. It is scheduled to go to public inquiry in November.

The scale of this potential loss puts it at the high end of the spectrum but it is just one of numerous situations where irreplaceable ancient woods are threatened by development. In the past 10 years, more than 600 ancient woods have been threatened, with over 100 suffering loss or damage as a consequence. Our WoodWatch team are working with communities across the ...

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