Remember our blogs about the threat to Broughton Woods – a large swathe of North Lincolnshire’s remaining ancient woodland? In 2010 we were finally able to stop QHotels from destroying this well-loved plantation ancient woodland site with an extension to their existing ‘Forest Pines’ golf course (but not without the valuable support of a loud and prolonged community-led campaign).
It emerged this week that during the period when the application was open to public consultation, over 125 local people went a step further to ensure future protection of the site and requested a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) be placed on the entire woodland.
In a comment left by Principal Environmental Planning Officer for North Lincs Council Ian Goldthorpe, posted on one of our Broughton Woods blog posts, we understand North Lincolnshire Council have been considering this request:
“Following the Inquiry in Public into the proposed golf course north Lincolnshire council received over 150 requests for the making of a Tree Preservation Order. A report on this matter will be presented to the Council’s Planning Committee at the Council’s Pittwood House offices in Scunthorpe on Wednesday 12th January 2011 – committee commencing at 14:00 hrs. ”
It is extremely encouraging to see people taking the initiative – and actually being listened to. An example of Big Society in action (!) you might say. It is welcome to know that people’s views can be taken into account in this way; so often it feels as if we are banging on a closed door when it comes to real protection for woodland in the planning system.
The report sent to the Planning Committee meeting makes some valid points about the need for Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and whether the protection they give is appropriate for some or all of Broughton Woods; concluding with the recommendation that one is not granted. This is due to the fact that TPOs do not necessarily ensure the total protection of a site, in particular:-
- TPOs do not give any control over the management of the woodland.
- TPOs do not stop planning permission being applied for.
- Permission to fell more than a small number of trees is controlled by the Forestry Commission – they cannot be removed or the woodland significantly changed without good reason.
Tree Preservation Orders can be applied to woodland and a woodland TPO would protect every tree in the woodland whether a 4-inch sapling or a 300-year old tree, which can be a good thing if someone is damaging individual trees within woodland. But that is probably not the issue here. Felling licence regulation will already apply, which will prevent any clear-felling of the wood and insist on replacements for those felled.
So what is the best option for this site? Probably a woodland grant from the Forestry Commission; which would support sustainable management of the site but also provide payment for other options such as public access. Currently the site has been split into 11 lots, two of which are still up for sale. It is hoped that new owners will access management grants available that will keep the woodland in good condition and guarantee its future in both amenity and biodiversity terms. We also hope that the local community can remain vigilant to threats in the future, so between us we can protect these irreplaceable woodlands forever…