• MP urged to act to protect ancient woodland in E Devon

    6th January 2014 | News | Claire
  • Dear Hugo

    I am extremely concerned about the news that Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, plans to allow development to take place on ancient woodland.

    This is a truly appalling proposal. Ancient woodland is just that – a tiny proportion of woodland in the UK – and it is irreplaceable.  Quite simply, it cannot be recreated.

    A miniscule two per cent of ancient woodland is left in Britain.

    It provides a home to thousands of insects and birds, many of which are also in serious decline due to development, climate change and alterations to farming methods – see the State of Nature Report which was published in spring 2012 – http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/stateofnature_tcm9-345839.pdf

    There is at least one piece of ancient woodland in East Devon that is very much under threat from Mr Paterson’s announcement.  This is Cadhay Bog, which is at risk from the proposed quarry at Straitgate Farm, to which there is huge opposition across the Ottery and West Hill area.

    It is thought that Cadhay Bog could date back to the ice-age – so old that it is known as “wildwood.”  Practically unique in this country.

    You may remember, as I am aware that you have made representations on this issue previously, that an underground watercourse feeds Cadhay Bog, and disturbance of this aquifer caused by quarrying would be very likely to cut off, or considerably reduce the vital water feeding the rich and irreplaceable habitat.

    Natural England and the Environment Agency have submitted strong objections to the proposals for this reason, but if Mr Paterson gets his way, their objections could quite easily be overruled and one of the last remaining examples of wildwood could be lost forever.

    So-called bio-diversity off-setting proposals will not work but will instead cause unprecedented destruction throughout the UK if they go ahead.  Ancient woodland has been created over many centuries and the idea that they could be recreated is farcical.

    In this country we have less than 10 per cent woodland cover, compared with around 40 per cent across Europe. We simply cannot afford to keep destroying our irreplaceable heritage – and with it – precious habitat and food for our ever decreasing wildlife.

    Please give assurances that you will do everything you can to protect ancient woodland in East Devon so that it remains untouched by developers, irrespective of the development or economic excuse.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    best wishes

    Claire Wright
    Independent Devon County and East Devon District Councillor
    Woodland Trust Tree Champion For Devon
    Ottery St Mary Rural Ward
    tel: 01404 812531
    email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    blog: http://www.claire-wright.org 
    twitter: @clairewrightInd