Ancient woodland loss to quarry shows why proposed protection is needed, says Woodland Trust

Promised updates to planning policy could have saved nearly 20 hectares of biodiverse ancient woodland which will now be lost after Wiltshire Council approved the expansion of a quarry, the Woodland Trust has said.

Image: Woodland Trust
Image: Woodland Trust

Raymond Brown Minerals and Recycling submitted an application to Wiltshire Council last year to extend Brickworth Quarry, near the village of Whiteparish just north of the New Forest, which sits between two areas of planted ancient woodland site (PAWS) which will now be largely lost.

According to the firm’s own ecological assessment, a number of rare species that inhabit the site including 33 ancient woodland indicator species, seven Red Data Book invertebrate species and 24 nationally scarce species.

A Raymond Brown representative said after the decision: "We are delighted that members of the Strategic Planning Committee agreed with the planning officer and other experts that the proposals would safeguard important soils and transformation of the area from a conifer plantation to a broad-leaved woodland can begin.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the community and all our stakeholders to ensure the site is worked and restored as sensitively as possible."

But Woodland Trust chief executive Beccy Speight said: "The applicant has proposed to replant the area of woodland once the quarried material has been removed, which shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of ancient woodland and the hundreds of years it takes to evolve.

"Ancient woodland will continue to be devastated by wholly avoidable acts of destruction unless planning policy changes. The housing white paper provides the platform to change its fate and compel the Government to take action; we must grasp this opportunity for the sake of ancient woods and trees everywhere."

Citing "recent clear Government intentions to improve protection for ancient woodland" set out through the housing white paper published in March, the conservation charity is calling for the public to support the proposed protection, and says has so far helped bring about over 13,000 responses to the current consultation, which closes on 2 May.

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