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Environment Environment

Provide stronger protections for our ancient woodland

Last updated: 09:06am 15 January 2019

… and provide stronger protections for our ancient woodland.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.26

Our verdict

In England, ancient woodlands are forests that have existed since before the 1600s. They are home to threatened species and are part of the country’s heritage. There are over 52,000 ancient woodland sites in England, so conflicts between development and protection are likely.

The government spoke about this issue in their 25 year environment plan, launched in January 2018, saying:

“We are committed to ensuring stronger protection of our ancient woodlands, making sure they are sustainably managed to provide a wide range of social, environmental, societal and economic benefits.”

Development on protected sites is usually decided by local councils and authorities, but there is a document full of guidelines at the national level, called the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which demands strong protection of ancient woodlands.

Following a consultation, as of July 2018, the government changed the wording of the NPPF regarding  development on designated areas:

“Planning permission should be refused for major development other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest.”

The consultation response made clear that the objective of the changes is “strengthened protection for ancient and veteran trees”.

The government’s changes to the NPPF are a sign of progress on this policy. The new requirements are now legally binding so we’re marking this one as ‘done’.

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