May 13 2018

May Campaigns News – a pig farm, housing and composting in ancient woods

It’s that time of year when the UK’s ancient woods are particularly resplendent, with many of them boasting stunning carpets of bluebells. But sadly, not everyone appreciates the magic that these precious habitats bring. Over 700 of these woods are currently under threat from developments. This month, we’re tackling threats from housing, holiday cabins and more. We have good news too, with two ancient woods now safe.


Current cases


In Scotland, ambitious plans for one of Europe’s largest regeneration projects pose a threat to ancient woodland at Ravenscraig in North Lanarkshire.


Some of the development is being proposed on areas designated as Long Established of Plantation Origin (2b LEPO) and other areas very close to 1a Ancient Woodland. These are both Scottish definitions for different types of ancient woodland. They are fragile and irreplaceable habitats that need protection from development. As well as loss, these woods face impacts from the constant presence of humans nearby such as disturbance to wildlife, damage to vegetation, trampling, litter, garden waste and other pollution.


In Wales we have a sticky situation which only seems to worsen as it develops. Initially, proposals called for the construction of two holiday cabins and an access road within ancient woodland known as Llidiart Wood near Powys. This would cause direct loss to the woodland as well as the damaging impacts that come from intense recreational use by people. Since our initial objection, a new proposal to move human waste (as part of a compost loo plan) through the ancient woodland has been added. This precious habitat is certainly not an appropriate place to build cabins, create a garden and compost human waste nearby. You might expect that compost would be good for woodland. However, this is not the case with ancient woods as it would alter the soils and make-up of plant species in the ground layer. We have sent in further comments opposing these plans.


The Welsh Government has proposed weakening protection for ancient woods and trees. Help improve protection in our campaign. Take part here.


A loss


We’re disappointed to hear that there will be loss of ancient woodland in a national park at Loch Lomond in Scotland. This is due to the approval of plans to build 20 houses in the ancient wood. It is particularly concerning that the developer’s application contained no understanding of what ancient woodland actually is, suggesting the designation is ‘redundant’ because there were no ancient trees on site. This is not the case. The definition of ‘ancient woodland’ comes from the ancient preserved soils where this ecosystem has developed over centuries, not the age of the trees in the wood itself.



For every case we lose, we usually win a couple more. This month we’ve seen success in saving a wood in Durham and another in Arundel, a multi-threat area.


One of our own ancient woodland sites, called Ragpath Wood, came under threat from plans for a pig farm near Durham. Farming practices undertaken close to ancient woods can be very damaging due to the chemicals that can enter the woodland ecosystem – in this case, harmful ammonia from the pigs. We’re pleased that the application has been withdrawn. But it’s not over yet as the applicants have stated that they plan to re-submit another application. We will, of course, continue to fight this once it comes back in.


The ancient woods of Arundel face one less threat now that housing plans have been turned down. The development would have caused both loss and damage to precious ancient woods. Find out more about the threats Arundel faces in our last update blog.

Tell us about threats near you


As the Woodland Trust is a charity, not a statutory consultee, we depend on people like you letting us know about ancient woods and trees that are at risk. Once we know, we will work to defend those ancient woods and trees that could be lost or damaged, where we can. We’ve just launched our new form so you can easily tell us about any threats you spot. If you’ve seen a potential threat to ancient woods or trees near you, let us know.


Report a threat to ancient woods or trees here.

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