Robin Hood connection could establish antiquity of threatened woodland

An ancient Yorkshire woodland under threat from a wind turbine development may be saved thanks to an obscure literary reference linking it to Robin Hood.

Image: Flickr/nmahieu
Image: Flickr/nmahieu

Origin Energy has resubmitted £6million plans to erect two wind turbines near to Barnsdale Wood northwest of Doncaster, which will require a corner of the woods to be cleared for access.

Though the area is popularly associated with Robin Hood, the woodland is not recognised as ancient, defined by Natural England as continuously wooded since 1600, leaving it more vulnerable to development.

But local history enthusiast Ron Firth has said he hopes a reference to it in the 16th-century Book of Pontefract will secure its protection.

"I came across a page where the author Henry Farrar quotes the Tudor antiquarian Leland in 1550 as saying 'I saw the wodd and famose Forrest of Barnsdale, where they say that Robyn Hudde liveyd'," he said.

"This passage surely qualifies the woods as ancient woodland to be recognised, protected and preserved."

Official ancient woodland status does not automatically prevent developments on or by woodland sites, but the National Planning Policy Framework instructs planners to give extra consideration to their impact on such sites.

The Woodland Trust has lent its support to the local campaign. Its ancient woodlands campaigner Katharine Rist said: "We will be advising Doncaster Council to seek further information from the applicant regarding the antiquity of Barnsdale Wood and White Leys plantation.

"No decision should be made on the application until all the facts have been established."

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