The recent announcement about Kingsnorth has been welcomed by environmentalists, green activists and sensible people everywhere. There is no doubt that without the questions, debate and delays brought about by the huge opposition to this proposed new coal fired power station, it would be well on its way to being built by now. It shows what a difference the public voice really can make when it is raised in unison.
Similarly, in the East Midlands today another unwelcome development was halted, as Sherwood Forest was saved - for now – from having a new incinerator as its neighbour. The community campaign against these plans has been long and hard-fought, and now what seems to be a flawed environmental assessment of the site by the applicant means more delays while the threat it poses to protected bird species are looked into. Reprieve for the ancient woodlands of Sherwood Forest, which (if you will pardon the pun) can breathe more easily tonight…
So, while people power has shown that in many cases it can make a real difference to the fate of our natural environment, that voice still needs to be raised.
The Woodland Trust is alerted to new cases of threats to our natural world every single day. Mineral extraction in particular is an issue that is still affecting the unique habitat of ancient woodland, right across the UK. Extraction plans for materials including oil, limestone and coal are keeping us very busy, to the detriment of ancient woodland.
We recently lost Markswell Wood to oil exploration, and we are awaiting a decision about whether Sussex will be devastated by another hydrocarbon exploration site (that’s an oil drill to the uninitiated), planned in Bury Hill Woods which many of you will have objected to.
But despite E-on putting the stops to Kingsnorth for now, it’s coal that is occupying so much of our time at the moment. As well as the obvious climate change issue, fragmentation is a serious problem, but where coal is concerned dust can be a particular concern. Trees are used as a method of catching dust and are often used as screens to protect housing near mineral extraction sites. Dust is widely recognised as an issue and species (such as lichens) found in ancient woodland are highly susceptible to dust.
In Telford a new open cast coal mine has just been approved, which will bring negative impacts on the neighbouring ancient woodland. We are in the midst of our campaign to save Margam Woods from a similar fate. And in Wales the woods at Pont-Henri are at risk for being lost forever, and we will have more on what you can do to help us here shortly.
One case where your support can really help is a current case featuring our own woods, Cwm George and Case Hill Woods – again in Wales - which are threatened by plans at Wenvoe Quarry. Happily (let’s be positive), this gives you another chance to speak up for woodlands as you can still object and help us protect them.
Thank you for all your efforts in fighting for ancient woodland with us so far – we just need you to keep it up! A key opportunity to do this is Blog Action Day, the uniting of bloggers a single issue on a single day and this year ahead of Copenhagen Climate Change is the subject of choice. Our Woods under Threat cases show that climate change is not being taken seriously enough and that ancient woodland is still being destroyed – we need you to add your voice to the debate.