The Woodland Trust has described the Pickles decision as: “One of the UK’s largest losses of ancient woodland in the last five years”, and the “first real test of whether the Government’s recent planning reforms would offer sufficient protection to ancient woodland”.

Attempting (and utterly failing in my view) to justify such large scale destruction of habitat, Mr Pickles says:  “The very considerable need for both crushed rock aggregates and dimension stone, together with the eventual biodiversity improvements, and the ongoing socioeconomic benefits, would clearly outweigh the loss of the ancient woodland and the other adverse effects of the development in this case.”

Ancient woodland is irreplaceable because of the eco-systems that have developed over hundreds of years. You can’t just “offset it” by planting a few saplings elsewhere.  The State of Nature report – here – http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/stateofnature_tcm9-345839.pdf talks of the pressures our trees are under from development and disease and the fatuous idea, (peddled by government) that you can just replant a woodland elsewhere, would be amusing if it wasn’t so serious.

It is an act of shocking environmental vandalism to allow such destruction.

And of course, for those that are familiar with the battle Ottery and West Hill residents are having against Aggregate Industries, which proposes to quarry sand and gravel at Straitgate Farm (approximately 80 acres) it is a very worrying decision.

Natural England and the Environment Agency have objected to the plans to quarry here because of the disturbance to an underground watercourse that feeds two sets of ancient woodland at Cadhay Wood and Cadhay Bog. These woodlands could be thousands of years old.

Devon County Council wants to allocate Straitgate Farm as a quarry in its minerals plan.

A decision on whether the land will be allocated in the DCC minerals plan will be made later this year.

For more information on the Straitgate Farm quarry proposal, see http://straitgateactiongroup.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/ancient-woodland-the-price-paid-for-crushed-aggregate.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+StraitgateActionGroup+(Straitgate+Action+Group)

Photograph thanks to Monica and Mark Mortimer:  Showing the considerable size of a quarry at Straitgate Farm,  viewed from East Hill.