Mr Pickles, what have you done!

When you set out to fight against loss of ancient woodland, you know you are the underdog. No amount of words from a ‘greenest Government ever’ will reassure you that ancient woodland will be protected under changing planning policies. No claims that the loopholes are not a problem and the system will stop the unnecessary destruction of our most valued habitats, reassures you enough to drop the argument. You also know you are in for a long, hard, slog of a fight. Never-the-less you fight on, clinging to the glimmer of hope that some one, somewhere will see that environmental value far outweighs economic value and realise once it is gone, it is gone forever and cannot be bought or brought back.

It is with this glimmer of hope we entered into the fight to save Oaken Wood 2 years ago, alongside Kent Wildlife Trust and the local action group ‘Save Oaken Wood’. Sadly, at 11am on July 12th 2013, the Secretary of State for Community and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP, rang the death knell for Oaken Wood as we know it. He decided to set the precedent for all ancient woodland across the country and grant planning permission to destroy Oaken Wood – basically, death by quarry!

For anyone who attended the long and detailed inquiry, they will have heard claims of replanting, translocation and mitigation. You will have seen people in positions of responsibility for our natural heritage refer to rare species as ‘common’ – as if they are just not rare enough and we only do something when we are down to the last 5 or so! And apparently, these empty claims and dismissive statements are all fine – as permission is now granted.

Ultimately, new planting can link existing ancient woods, increase protection to their core by expanding them (buffering) and create resilient habitats – as long as they are not destroyed in the first place by activity such as quarrying. However, new trees and woods, such as those proposed in this case and Ok’d by the Secretary of State will never be the same as ancient woodland where ecosystems have formed and been supported in undisturbed soil over hundreds of years. Quite simply, Oaken Wood will never be as species-rich as it is today.

Mr Pickles, what have you done to the future of our landscapes? Today, you let everyone who cares for their local community environment down. So I’ll leave the final words to Sue Holden, our Chief Executive who said this when she received the news :

 “This is a landmark decision, but for all the wrong reasons. This so-called ‘greenest Government ever’ stated that the new National Planning Policy Framework would give sufficient protection to irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland. It clearly does not – it seems no green space is safe.”

(and please feel free to add your final words in memory of this wood into comments)

 As a little note: A huge thank you to the 6,000 plus supporters, local groups and individuals and Kent Wildlife for all the help along the way. You were amazing!

Oaken Wood

Oaken Wood


About Nikki Williams

Head of Campaigning for the Woodland Trust
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Planning, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

732 Responses to Mr Pickles, what have you done!

  1. Hello Andy,

    Sadly, I don’t know how to use Social Media.

    However, I’ve just posted the following text in response to a posting by Nikki Williams:

    “Hello Nikki,

    It still irks me that the Woodland Trust failed to support our legal challenge to Eric Pickles’s decision to approve the avoidable exploitation of Oaken Wood in Kent.

    Do you, perhaps, have even a teensy-weensy sense of regret that the Woodland Trust chose not to support our legal challenge to Eric Pickles’s planning decision regarding Oaken Wood – which would have drawn a line and established a precedent that would have protected all other ancient woodlands from unnecessary destruction?


  2. Hello Nikki,

    It still irks me that the Woodland Trust failed to support our legal challenge to Eric Pickles’s decision to approve the avoidable exploitation of Oaken Wood in Kent.

    Do you, perhaps, have even a teensy-weensy sense of regret that the Woodland Trust chose not to support our legal challenge to Eric Pickles’s planning decision regarding Oaken Wood – which would have drawn a line and established a precedent that would have protected all other ancient woodlands from unnecessary destruction?


  3. Saved as a favorite, I love your site!

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  9. Alan Meekings says:

    Perhaps it’s just because I personally feel completely let down by the Woodland Trust concerning their withdrawal from the defence of Oaken Wood in Kent that I’m now finding it hard to support the Woodland Trust in any of its other campaigning activities, however seemingly worthy.

    I came late to the campaign to save the ancient woodland of Oaken Wood in Kent from mining aggregate stone, which can and is mined in lots of other places that aren’t rare pieces of ancient woodland. Even as a layperson, I could see instantly that it was:

    (1) A fundamentally flawed planning approval. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you read the Planning Inspector’s report (and weep with frustration) and also investigate how this landmark planning approval was dealt with in Eric Pickle’s department (see The Observer at; and

    (2) Bound to be the ‘thin end of the wedge’ in terms of protecting other ancient woodland from destruction for commercial reasons.

    I ended up, unrepresented, in the High Court on Thu 19 Sep 13, seeking a stay of execution regarding the destruction of Oaken Wood but with absolutely no help whatsoever from the Woodland Trust. My belief is that this application to the High Court failed purely through lack of timely, professional legal advice.

    Another campaigner, Andy White, has recently posted a comment on the 38 Degrees ‘Campaigns by You’ website (see email below).

    It will be good to know how the Woodland Trust chooses to respond to this posting.


    From: Andrew White via Campaigns by You
    Sent: Monday, October 14, 2013 3:41 PM
    Subject: Court defeat for Oaken Wood

    The final legal battle to save one of our last remaining ancient woodlands from corporate greed has ended in defeat. The insatiable maw of big business, backed to the hilt by our glorious legal system is poised to gobble down the wood. The powers that be will then use this test case of the NPPF to try and chew its way inexorably through the remainder of our once green and pleasant land.

    I am horrified; horrified, desperately saddened and utterly enraged to have to report to you the bungling stupidity, greed and aggression of our elected representatives actually participating in what is no less than the rape of the nation.

    The ‘Garden of England’ is being trampled and destroyed by the very people who have been charged to protect it.

    What does this mean? How can this happen in our ‘evolved’ country? Answer; because it is not evolved at all. We’ve just had the wool pulled over our eyes to keep us smug and compliant.

    We are as controlled by the rich and powerful as ever we were, with the added twist that we no longer think of ourselves as oppressed. We are so starry eyed over our ‘freedom of speech’ that we forget to ask if it comes with a promise to listen. The fall of Oaken Wood, to the UNANIMOUS protest of all, is proof not only that the NPPF has failed at the first hurdle but that the promise of Democracy, as it stands, is a lie.

    My own consolation is the tremendous sense of community spirit I’ve seen throughout, people from all walks of life pulling together, waking up to what is actually going on and lending their voice to the outcry at the way our land is being treated. Thank you for being part of that protest. Eventually we will be heard.


  10. Paul Beevers says:

    Well done Andy. I have transferred £100.

  11. Hilary Vivian says:

    Brilliant news! Count me in for £50

  12. Ella-Jo Mehta says:

    That’s great news. Just made a transfer to the account you listed. Please keep us all posted!

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  14. Paul Beevers says:

    A hearing at the High Court on Thursday September 19th to review the Oaken Wood decision was refused. However…….., Andy White, Jacquie Cox and Paul Beevers have come together in a group titled “Our Ancient Woods” to try and encourage people like you to help us to get Parliament to listen.
    This case has such importance for the future of our ancient woodlands that we are asking each of you to write to your MP with the questions below. We propose a text, that you can personalise, tell you how to attach the document that was to be presented to the High Court for your email to your MP and how to find the email address for your MP.

    Dear [MP Title and Name]

    The decision of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to allow quarrying of ancient woodland at Oaken Wood demonstrates that the NPPF has failed, together with the process that brought about that decision. The outcome will destroy 80 acres of irreplaceable ancient woodland to produce stone mostly for aggregate and only 3% for building stone. The quarry will be exhausted in just 23 years. Given that Parliament seems incapable of providing protection for the last 2.5% of ancient woodland in England then we feel we have no option but to ask Parliament to urgently investigate through the audit committee system the importance and true worth of ancient woodland. These are the questions we suggest you put to your MP.

    1. Can you please refer the document prepared for the High Court Appeal on Oaken Wood to the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons to request that the Planning Enquiry and the decision of the Secretary of State be the subject of an urgent investigation by the Committee.
    2. Please propose a motion that expresses the deep concern of the house that while England only has 2.5% of land with irreplaceable ancient woodland the Government has seen fit to allow the destruction of 80 acres of this vitally important and rare habitat to supply just 23 years of stone which will mostly be used as aggregate.
    3. Please submit a question to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government asking why neither the Planning Inspector nor the Secretary of State demonstrated the sustainability of their conclusions or decisions with supporting facts and figures. We would like to know how and why he had concluded that; “ the very considerable need for both crushed rock aggregates and dimension stone, together with the eventual biodiversity improvements, and the ongoing socio-economic benefits, would clearly outweigh the loss of the ancient woodland and the other adverse effects of the development in this case:” Please also ask the Government why it failed to follow its own arguments for sustainable development by not presenting the ecosystem and financial costs and benefits to support its case, especially in view of its commitment to the Aarhus Convention on the provision of environmental information and, to demonstrate that it is properly valuing ecosystem services in the way it said it would when it created the Natural Capital Committee.

    To download a copy of the document that was to be presented to the High Court please use the link below or copy and put into your browser. Click on “File” in the top left hand corner and then from the dropdown select “Download”.

    If you do not have the name and email of your Member of Parliament then you can find this information by using the link below or copying it into your browser and entering your postcode on the page.


    • Oliver Newham says:

      Best wishes with this. A couple of pointers that might help; I think it would be good if you rooted it in ancient woodland more generally to have the maximum effect on MPs across the country. Most are not likely to have an awareness of Oaken Wood and can be rather parochial at times, so broadening the message out a bit will probably help in terms of getting them to take note. You might also want to think about writing to the CLG committee as they deal with planning matters. The only other thing to add is that we are busy developing our own wider campaign so keep watching the blog for more updates and things to get involved with.

    • Ella-Jo Mehta says:

      Perhaps Paul’s suggestions and draft could be added to the 38 degrees campaign that Andy set up? That way it will reach all those who signed that petition… I will certainly be spreading the word anyway.

    • Ella-Jo Mehta says:

      I think it’s important to point out to our respective MPs that the Oaken Wood case needs investigating specifically, because it has been a “test case” in which NPPF has spectacularly failed. However as Oliver says it’s also crucial that MPs realize the wider implications – being parochial on this issue is rather like saying “I don’t mind about the hole – it’s in your end of the boat…”

  15. These people are greedy, ruthless thugs who care about nothing except money and what they can buy with it. The natural world does not impinge on their collective consciousness in any way. All the work Andy and others have done so far must NOT be for nothing. I agree with him that this needs to turn into an anti-fracking-type campaign, because all ancient woodlands (such as Smithy Wood) are now up for grabs.

  16. Andy White says:

    In order to avoid a libel suit that would then risk dragging our Appeal Complainant to court as a hostile witness i have to be very careful about how I phrase what is to follow.

    A few days before she was due to appear our complainant was contacted by certain parties. Subsequently, she withdrew her claim under the apprehension that she would have to pay costs of £5000 if she lost the hearing (called by the other side to strike out our Appeal). Knowing that this ‘cost’ referred to the Appeal and not to the hearing, that there would be no charge to us whether we won or lost, our case had to be presented to the judge on Thursday by someone else, someone who held no fear of ‘the consequences’. The judge decreed that he ‘had no standing in the court’ and the Appeal was struck out. NO COSTS WERE THEN CHARGED TO OUR TEAM.

    You join the dots.

    So, despite the fact that Pickles denied authorship of the very document he wished to defend in court, despite the fact that there was no relative costings analysis to justify his decision, as admitted by his own department, and despite flagrant disregard of the EU birds directive, Gallaghers Inc now have the legal right to pull down 80 acres of ancient, timeless, irreplaceable wood.

    We have two hopes left as i see it.
    1) Our compainant complains yet again at the circumstances of her being bought to beleive she would be penalised if she lost the day. Slim, given the extent of her fearful state.
    2) Massive grassroots protest of the order we’ve witnessed in Surrey against fracking.

    We supposedly live in a free country. But what is that ‘freedom’ worth if our childrens national heritage and their collective inheritance is openly available for plunder by soviet style muscle men who can flaut common decency and find any number of avenues around the paltry and ineffective laws designed to protect our Environment? IT IS OUR HOME!! We are in the situation of tenants who cannot bolt their doors to landlords who want more, much more than rent. Our home, our environment is being pulled down around our ears by fools and idiots that we have foolishly and idioticallly given the power to govern and represent us.

    Its time we all woke up. Our democracy sucks. A different brand of idiotic fools won’t help the situation. We urgently need devolved government, de-centralized governance that is local enough for leaders to be truly accountable, people being limited to making executive decisions in their own locality. Until that time the unfolding and premeditated rape of the maid of Oaken Woods will occur again and again by ‘leaders’ who veiw the countryside with all the avarice and lust of Viking raiders.

    • Julie Taylor says:

      Oh Andy … and all of you who have been directly involved in challenging this appalling decision … I am gutted, especially gutted for all those who have worked so hard on this just lately. A devastating demonstration of how our so-called democracy does not work!

      … but I agree with you that we must fight on. The importance of this particular decision must not be underestimated – it really is a dire precedent for the future of our environmental heritage. We need to decide on our next course of action.

    • Hilary Vivian says:

      Shocked, angered and saddened by this news, but ready to support any ongoing fight against this vile dictatorship

    • Matt Derrington says:

      Hi Andy. I’ve just spoken to the barrister I know again. He reiterates that this setback does not prevent Alan from informing the judge within 7 days that he has relevant new information. If the judge agrees that the matter is of sufficient importance (hard to see how it could be seen as anything less), then he is empowered to set a limit on the damages- perhaps only £1000. This is particularly the case in environmental matters with wide impact (again, it could hardly have a wider impact).

      He stressed that you should be getting specialised legal advice about this already, and if not, then you must seek some. He also suggested strongly that if £1000 is too prohibitive to your private endeavours, then the Woodland Trust should put forward funds to pursue the avenue you have discovered.

      • Fiona wilson says:

        Why isn’t Woodland Trust commenting on this legal challenge? If anyone from WT is reading these mails please will you comment on whether or not you are prepared to back it and if not please could you give reasons why?

        • Oliver Newham says:

          Hi Fiona, good questions. The first answer is we did comment after the news regarding last week’s hearing, basically saying that we were all extremely saddened and that the blame for all of this lies squarely with our planning system which we believe is fundamentally flawed. Put simply there is no way any of us should be in this situation; the need for development can never outweigh the loss of this precious and irreplaceable resource!

          Your second question is a little more complex. We fought the case from 2010 including last year’s Public Inquiry. It was very costly, and as a charity we have to make sure every penny is spent to be as effective as possible in achieving the goals that members and supporters have signed up to.

          So after the original – dreadful – decision in July that gave the scheme the go ahead, we then went to our experts – our planning, conservation, legal and other advisors – with the question what can we do now to save this wood? The message back was clear. We can sadly do little to stop this one now through the current system, so we need to spend our resources fighting to change that system; for a change to national planning policy to increase our chance of stopping things like this happening in the future. So that is what we are doing; building on the Oaken decision to push for a big national change. An uphill battle yes, but certainly one that is hugely important.

          Don’t though take this as discouragement, it has been heartening to see people getting together to carry on the fight. Hopefully with both of our strategies we can stop these decisions now and in the future.

          If anyone wants to discuss their specific plans or suggestions regarding the legal case with any of us here at the Trust, it is probably best if we talk details offline.

    • Matt Derrington says:

      Oh- and I should have mentioned, he also said that whether or not your Appeal Complainant wishes to pursue the case further personally, she is duty bound to inform the judge of the intimidation she suffered. This in the interests of justice itself.

  17. Andy White says:

    I think that Pickles public denial of authorship for the planning decision in which he says he ‘weighed’ the merits of the case now demands a public enquiry. What say you? Nikki? below is my (third) letter to Earl Attlee.

    Andrew J White,
    Peel house,
    New Street,
    EX18 7DA


    The Earl Atlee
    House of Lords,
    SW1A OPW.

    Dear Sir,
    You will be shocked to hear that the debacle of Oaken Woods intended destruction has taken the strangest turn. It transpires that the rt hon Eric Pickles was publicly asked about his controversial decision to permit Oaken’s destruction in a recent visit to Maidstone by Lib Dem spokesman Mr Jasper Gerard. He replied that he had not made the decision at all, and that it had in fact been made by a junior official! This is in direct contradiction of his statement within the document relating to the Oaken Wood decision.
    ‘Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (Sections 73 & 77) – Application By Gallagher Aggregates Ltd, Hermitage Quarry, Hermitage Lane, Aylesford – Application Ref.TM/10/2158341′).
    Here’s the second paragraph of the document:
    “2. On 27 July 2011, THE SECRETARY OF STATE DIRECTED, in pursuance of Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, THAT YOUR CLIENT’S APPLICATION BE REFERRED TO HIM instead of being dealt with by the Mineral Planning Authority, Kent County Council (‘KCC’). The reason for making the direction was that the proposal may conflict with national policies on important matters.” (my emphasis)

    What this means Sir, is that not only is a priceless piece of ancient woodland, the jewel of ‘The Garden of England’ about to be destroyed for the sake of aggregate but that it is being done without accountability. This, I’m sure you will agree, cannot be right. Is there anything that can be done in the House of Lords, Sir? Will priceless English heritage be tuned into a gaping hole in the ground for the sake of crushed stone when even the signature on the document is of uncertain provenance? Is this not the time for a public enquiry into the loophole in planning law that allows for big business to have their material interests ‘balanced’ in the same scales as irreplaceable national heritage?

    This Friday the Telegraph reports Mr Nick Boles using precisely this phraseology to justify ‘development’ within all ten of our national parks to their assured detriment. If Oaken Woods fall, the Parks will be next, using the precedent that the material gain to development ‘outweigh’ the benefits of Conservation, and then it will all be gone. Whom will our descendants hold accountable?

    Respectfully yours,
    Andrew White

    • Julie Taylor says:

      I certainly feel there must be more that can be done regarding this ‘admission’ by Eric Pickles that he was not the person who actually signed off this appalling decision.

      I do like your letter too 🙂 …. perhaps we need to send a whole shoal of similar letters quickly before they sell off Royal Mail!

    • Alan Meekings says:

      This is great letter, Andy – well done you!!

      Just another thought – how do we attract media interest concerning this landmark issue and our scheduled appearance in court on Thursday?

      Do we have any celebrity supporters or contacts in the media?

      If the British public were aware that our remaining ancient woodland (and, by extension, all the other woodland they fought to defend three years ago) is now at risk, they’d be horrified. With widespread public support, it should be possible to get a proper inquiry into the way Eric Pickles and his Department have handled this perverse planning decision that flies in the face of the policy promises made earlier by the Coalition Government in response to overwhelming public opinion – let alone it being delegated to “a junior official”.

      Is there any chance that 38 Degrees or the Woodland Trust might be willing get a social media campaign going over the next three days.

      The time has come to enforce proper planning procedure concerning issues of national significance like this, and we need all the support we can get from the wider public.

      I’m happy to spend time between now and Thursday briefing journalists on the issues of principle involved in the court’s deliberations on Thursday, if only I knew who to speak to and how to reach them.

      • Hilary Vivian says:

        The Guardian’s George Monbiot would be sympathetic…contact him via the paper? Good luck!

        • Andy White says:

          Could you do that Hilary, it would be a great help..

          • Hilary Vivian says:

            Have just passed on George M’s details and a few more suggested contacts to Alan, who is far better qualified than I am to explain the Oaken Woods situation – but I’m happy to help in any other way. Where should we send our contributions to the legal fund? Hilary

      • Fiona Wilson says:

        I agree, really well done Andy for your persistence and this latest letter. Alan, you are obviously doing a great deal behind the scenes. It is no surprise that this forum is being monitored by Gallagher. Thank you for keeping us posted. Has there been any response from Earl Atlee? Or 38 degrees? We absolutely do need more publicity and they are in a postiion to help with this. Andy, how do we contribute to the legal expenses being incurred on Thursday? It won’t stop here and there may well be a shortfall – Nikki, is Woodland Trust willing to help out financially with this?? At some point in the near future, should we not have a meeting? WT is going to unveil their future plans soon, will this include a meeting of supporters?

      • Hilary Vivian says:

        Try The Independent’s newsdesk – after all, this is big news. Email is:

        • Alan Meekings says:

          Many thanks for this lead, Hilary – very much appreciated.

          • Hilary Vivian says:

            Hi, Alan,

            Here are a few more contacts for you (I don’t feel qualified to make direct contact myself on the nitty-gritty of the matter, so a big thank-you to you for offering your time to lobby the media):
            The straight-talking nature and sports writer Simon Barnes (of The Times; this is a guess at his email, but try The Times’ website if not) simon.barnes@the

            The Guardian’s environment editor:

            Even the jolly old Daily Telegraph has its own anti-tory green campaign (!) – see website:

            Again the Guardian, George Monbiot – can be contacted via his website

            I’m not part of the Twitterati, but on the celeb front, there’s @ChrisGPackham and how about getting La Lumley involved? Prob have to be through an agent….

            Will keep thinking

          • Alan Meekings says:

            Many thanks, Vivian.

            There are now only a few hours left before the amazingly inappropriate case made by Ms L McIntyre of Bircham Dyson Bell LLP, acting on behalf of Gallagher Aggregates Limited, who are seeking to become a new, third defendant to the submission Sarah Cooper made earlier to High Court (previously citing The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Kent Council as defendants) is heard in the High Court at 10.30 tomorrow.

            I understand that solicitors acting for Gallagher Aggregates Limited will seek tomorrow to prevent me from entering the court room, hence denying the opportunity for me to present our case to the Judge, on the grounds that my name is Alan Meekings, not Sarah Cooper.

            Assuming I will be allowed to enter the court room tomorrow, I believe we have an irrefutable case to put to the Judge to seek extra time to raise necessary funds to ensure our case is properly represented in court in future.

            Wish me well, Hilary.

            I’ll report back tomorrow.

          • Hilary Vivian says:

            I do wish you well, Alan – how ridiculous that we should have to fight our so-called representatives in this “democracy”, when the protection of precious and irreplaceable environment should be their default setting, as it is with of all decent and caring people.

          • Matt Derrington says:

            Hi Alan. I’ve just spoken to a barrister I know. He says Gallagher’s solicitors are not entitled to prevent you from entering the court tomorrow, unless it’s an ‘ex parte’ hearing and the judge agrees to their request to keep you out. Even if this happens you have the next 7 days to inform the judge you possess relevant information and that as you were not allowed to be there on Thursday, you require your own ‘ex parte’ hearing with him as soon as possible.

          • Alan Meekings says:

            Thanks, Matt. I’ll let you know how things go tomorrow.

          • Alan Meekings says:

            Thanks, Matt.

            This could be helpful tomorrow.

            In a funny sort of way, I won’t be disheartened if I’m denied a hearing in the High Court tomorrow morning, as this will make clear to everyone in this country that this has been a totally flawed planning approval.

            Let’s see what happens.

          • Matt Derrington says:

            Yes, it all counts Alan. The time will come…

          • Fiona Wilson says:

            Good luck for tomorrow!

          • Beverley Phillips says:

            I wholeheartedly wish you well,too, Alan.

          • Alan Meekings says:

            I think we are where we are regarding publicity for tomorrow. More news in due course . . .

          • Hilary Vivian says:

            Alan, further to earlier message, I think Simon Barnes’s email is

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            Hi Alan, I had no idea you’d been doing so much! I’d like to add my own thanks and congratulations to you for the excellent initiatives you’ve been pursuing.

            I’d love to know what’s happening as I’m writing this – I hope you’ve been allowed into the courtroom to make your case to the Judge.

      • Matt Derrington says:

        Yes, seems to me that relevant celebrities and organisations are experiencing a strange shyness in coming forward to help make sure this precedent does go the right way. Hard to believe they can’t see how this is THE precedent.

        To increase publicity at a vital time, I elect that most famous and apparently now repentant purveyor of ‘gravel ‘n’ decking’, Mr Alan Titchmarsh. I elect Charles Windsor. A statement from such a famous environmentalist that he doesn’t want living cathedrals destroyed to help patch up castles, could go a long way. And I elect any number of local naturalists. Spring and Autumnwatch’s Richard Taylor-Jones seems to make many of his mesmerisingly beautiful video eligies in Kent. I know that he also values ‘the bigger picture’.

        That’s what everyone needs to remember here.

      • Julie Taylor says:

        Another thought I have had is whether Caroline Lucas or Natalie Bennett (or anyone) in the Green Party may be persuaded to come on board this issue. Caroline Lucas did campaign at Balcombe over the summer.

        I know others have said this too, but I really don’t think enough people realise what a precedent this planning decision is setting. I know I live at the other end of the country but we still care about the future of our ancient woodlands.

        re the 38Degrees idea: there would be the possibility of a further petition via their “Campaigns by You”, specifically focused towards this week’s court hearing. We could also all share this with our social networks.

        Maybe a press release that is sent to several editors? … could people at the Woodland Trust advise on how they normally do this?

        If there were some sort of organised campaign group presence outside of the court …. maybe some dressed as trees??! … this could be notified to local/national TV newsdesks.

        Good Luck with the court hearing. Keep letting us know if there’s anything else us far- flung folk can do to help.

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      Excellent letter, Andy. You’re absolutely right to point out the contradiction in Mr Pickles’s reply to Jasper Gerard. And I thought this part of your letter was spot on:

      “Is this not the time for a public enquiry into the loophole in planning law that allows for big business to have their material interests ‘balanced’ in the same scales as irreplaceable national heritage?”

      As far as I can make out, Mr Nick Boles (the MP for the Grantham and Stamford constituency in Lincolnshire) is a menace. The fact that he’s been given considerable authority over questions of ‘Development’/Conservation speaks volumes about the intentions of the people who handed him that power.

      • Matt Derrington says:

        Hi Joseph. That will be the same Nick Boles who the CPRE claim wrote to another MP recently encouraging him to approve building on any fields that didn’t have annoying wildlife of legal significance on them.

        It does indeed all speak very clearly about their values and intents. They will do anything to further their obsession- money. And they will destroy everything- unless they are somehow stopped. That is why it is so important we do anything we can toward that end.

  18. Andy White says:

    Hello all, what a fantastic response from everyone! We have environmental solicitor Richard Buxton looking at the documents this week, further buoyed up by the fact that Eric Pickles made a most ill-advised visit to Maidstone last saturday and was cornered by an irate bunch of locals who wanted to know if he would like a guided tour of Oaken!! Apparently he completely lost the plot, cussed out all and sundry and, practically blubbing, claimed he wasn’t responsible for signing off the planning permission, choosing to blame a ‘junior official’! I’m sure this will deeply impress the judge! We are certainly including this in the statement added on to the appeal which should be ready for finalisation before too long. All of you deserve to stand tall on this one. We will win this day….

    • Matt Derrington says:

      Hi Andy. I looked up his visit online. Is there any video footage of it to your knowledge? What he’s alleged to have said in front of a young child certainly sounds like a sane, responsible person in charge of his emotions, his faculties, and a priceless piece of his country’s assets.

      As for claiming the decision was taken by a junior colleague, that hardly speaks well either. I would say that would have to be negligent, or mendacious. What a sorry mess. Why can’t people get on with doing what most know to be right.

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        Hi Matt, “menadacious” sounds about right to me!

        I’m looking at the document relating to the Oaken Wood decision (the snappily-entitled ‘Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (Sections 73 & 77) – Application By Gallagher Aggregates Ltd, Hermitage Quarry, Hermitage Lane, Aylesford – Application Ref.TM/10/2158341’).

        Here’s the second paragraph of the document:

        “2. On 27 July 2011, THE SECRETARY OF STATE DIRECTED, in pursuance of Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, THAT YOUR CLIENT’S APPLICATION BE REFERRED TO HIM instead of being dealt with by the Mineral Planning Authority, Kent County Council (‘KCC’). The reason for making the direction was that the proposal may conflict with national policies on important matters.” [I’ve used block capitals here for emphasis – they don’t appear in the original document.]

        If Mr Pickles did indeed claim that the Oaken Wood decision was made by a junior official, it’s astonishing. Either he was telling a gigantic fib or it’s the first I’ve ever heard of a Secretary of State so drastically demoting himself!

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      Hi Andy, many thanks for the update about Richard Buxton – this is very good news.

      Mr Pickles’ remark about a ‘junior official’ is extraordinary. I’ve written more about this in response to Matt’s comment.

  19. Andy White says:

    Dear Paul, Fiona, Matt, Alan, Dave, Vince, Beverley, Joseph, Jacquie and all you other wonderful people who have felt inspired to post your thoughts and feelings about the intended destruction of Oaken Wood on this site. I want to set up a meeting with an environmental solicitor in Cambridge, Richard Buxton, to tweak our 22 page appeal into shape. If the appeal is accepted for hearing, that alone will be a landmark victory for our cause. We then have a good chance to go on and win the case. It will be a massive triumph for the voice of ordinary people like you and me, for Nature, for the woods and habitats of this land. It will be the end of ‘the loophole’ and the end of people like Pickles automatically having their way with us. But Mr Buxton must be paid for his important contribution. I am willing to stump up £200 to start the small fund of some £600 odd, required to meet with him one afternoon in the next week, a meeting to which you are all, of course, invited. What say you?

    • Hilary Vivian says:

      Hi, Andy – this is terrific news – thank you. Count me in for £50 – bank details later?

    • Ella-Jo Mehta says:

      Andy – very happy to contribute something. Paypal? Where do you want it sent?

    • Ella-Jo Mehta says:

      Bank transfer also fine. Let me know what you prefer.

    • Matt Derrington says:

      Hi Andy. Yes, I would like to donate at least £25 to this. Please let us all know if there’s any shortfall. I would also like to donate if a case is pursued.

      • Alan Meekings says:

        Please count me in for £100, Andy.

        Also please advise me on how I should pay this contribution.

        As I live fairly near Cambridge, I’d be happy to support you at the meeting with your environmental solicitor, if you think this may be helpful.

        Can we communicate directly either by Skype or email?

        My Skype address is alanmeekings and my email address is


    • Fiona Wilson says:

      Hi Andy, yes I’ll contribute. Let us know how and also of any shortfall. Nikki, can WT help back this?

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      Hi Andy. Yet again – well done!

      I’m sorry to reply to you so late. I can’t offer much, but I’ll be happy to contribute £20 now – please let me know how you’d like me to send this to you. My e-mail address is (Unfortunately, I can’t afford to travel to Cambridge, but if you think I can help you prepare for the meeting by doing some internet research for you, I’ll be very glad to give you any assistance I can.)

      It’s fantastic to see the messages of support and the offers of contributions you’ve received here. Thanks for your generosity in putting such a substantial amount of your own money into this new initiative. You keep driving things forward in the campaign to save Oaken Wood – thank you!

      • Alan Meekings says:

        I completely agree with your comments, Joseph.

        It’s great to see so many people contributing to support a proper legal challenge to this almost unbelievable planning approval. If we don’t do it, I doubt anyone else will.

        Also very many thanks for your own personal contribution, Joseph!!


        • Joseph Marshall says:

          Thanks, Alan – much appreciated. Your own contribution is very generous and the willing response from so many contributers to this blog is really heart-warming. The legal challenge is already holding the bulldozers back from Oaken Wood – a remarkable victory.The broader campaign will be hard-fought, but it’s winnable.

    • Absolutely fantastic news! Good for you.
      I’d like to contribute something, though I’m unemployed so I can’t afford much. For the same reason I may not be able to get to Cambridge, unfortunately.

    • Andy White says:

      I should have given the link above some context… Its an ITV meridian news clip about Oaken and the High Court appeal. The speaker is Jasper Gerard a spokesman for the Lib Dems who is putting a lot of his personal time and effort into supporting our cause.

      • Jacquie Cox says:

        Andy that’s awesome! Whoop for people power. The clip says there are two weeks to put the case to the judge, I take it that refers to the witness statement? Any help that I can give just let me know.

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        Thanks for the link, Andy. I thought this was excellent. The film that accompanied David Johns’ report very effectively underscored Jasper Gerard’s words. Mr Gerard’s point that the “ancient woodland of Kent is our rainforest” was especially well made. He also spoke of the dangers of “development, development, development at all costs” and how we’re at risk of “huge suburban sprawl”.

        The images in the report strongly echoed Mr Gerard’s statements: there could hardly have been a more striking contrast between the beauty of the wood (which was lovingly filmed) and the ugliness of the mechanical diggers scooping up heaps of grey rubble.

        David Johns was right to end his report by speaking of “a stay of execution”, but I agree with Jasper Gerard that everyone who wants to save Oaken Wood can claim this as a significant victory.

  20. Andy White says:

    The guide lines for making a sec288 objection include provision for..”• A witness statement in support of the application (if not filed with the claim form, it must be filed and served within14 days of issuing the claim)” I am currently drafting such a statement, trying to cobble together as many of the very useful points raised by everyone below. I think that your sleuthing out the revenues to govt coffers is key Jacquie! It seriously questions Pickles objectivity and queers the pitch of his math even further. Does anyone know what percentage of stone is intended for restoration? Having figures about that could further weaken the decision.
    I intend to have further conversations to talk with beleagured Operations Director of38* today or at least will make an appointment to do so. My angle will be that a successful backing of our campaign may also serve to sway public opinion in their own favour and assist the quashing of the bill intended to muzzle their freedom to campaign.

    • Paul Beevers says:

      I have sent Andy directly some extracts from the Planning Inspector Report together with a copy of the report. In the recommended Planning Conditions there is one that suggests there will be a requirement for a bout 25,000 tonnes per annum. The text from the report follows.
      Page 141 (Under Recommended Planning Conditions)

      Building Stone
      33. The operator of the hereby permitted Westerly Extension to Hermitage Quarry
      shall make available for sale a minimum of 25,000 tonnes of building stone per
      annum throughout the operational life of the quarry. A stockpile of half this
      quantity shall be maintained on the site after the first year of operation for the
      duration of extraction operations. Records shall be submitted annually to the
      Mineral Planning Authority to confirm the sales of building stone in the
      preceding year and the amounts held on site.

      • Alan Meekings says:

        Thanks, Paul.

        As I’m not an expert in terms of mining for aggregates, I’m wondering if these planning requirements are challenging to meet in operational terms or a doddle for the Gallagher Group?

        Any thoughts?

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        I’m very late catching up on your comment, Paul, but this was an interesting item of information. I tried to find out a little bit more, but my info is nowhere near as specific as yours. I wanted to track down figures for the average annual tonneage of Kentish ragstone that Gallagher Aggregates have been quarrying over the past few years, but I didn’t have any luck.

        All I’ve learned is that 737,000 tonnes of Building (Dimension) Stone were quarried in Great Britain in 2011 and that the Gallagher Group claim to be “the last remaining company still actively quarrying Kentish ragstone.” (They don’t say if anyone is quarrying it inactively!)

        The requirement to make 25,000 tonnes of Kentish ragstone available for sale would mean that Gallagher would account for about 3% of Great Britain’s total annual extraction of Dimension Stone (based on the 2011 figure). This doesn’t tell us a great deal, but it strikes me as a significant share of a fairly specialised market.

        The source for the statement from Gallagher that I quoted above is The statement goes on to say, “Kentish Ragstone is the only hard rock available at shallow depth in the South East of England. The nearest similar resources are over a hundred miles away in Somerset and Leicestershire; using this material would involve significant additional transport and associated environmental costs.” But the significance and the costs aren’t quantified.

        • Alan Meekings says:

          Thanks for these references, Joseph.

          I’m confident that, when we face the expensive lawyers acting on behalf of the Gallagher Group in the High Court this coming Thursday (who are seeking to dismiss the current legal stay of execution which protects against mining in Oaken Wood), their case will be rejected.

          Meanwhile, though, please be aware that Ms Lynsey McIntyre of solicitors Bircham Dyson Bell LLP (BDP) has been monitoring every posting on this forum, with a view to spinning a case on behalf of her client, the Gallagher Group.

          I suggest we ignore Ms Lynsey McIntyre and continue to talk about what really maters, which is protecting this rare piece of ancient woodland.

          Speaking personally, I’d like to ask Ms Lynsey McIntyre how she manages to square her conscience with the work she’s currently doing on behalf of the Gallagher Group? It would be good to know your answer, Lynsey.

          Regards, Alan

          • Hilary Vivian says:

            Well said: let’s ignore Ms McIntyre. Anyone who opposes the preservation of Oaken Wood, and other precious places like it, has a very skewed set of priorities.

  21. Joseph Marshall says:

    Update about petitions (I checked the numbers of signatures at around 4pm today). If anyone knows of any petitions, I’ve missed, please add to my list.

    care2 Petition Site
    (Campaign started by Judith B)
    13,099 signatures

    38 Degrees petitions
    (Campaign started by Andy White)
    498 signatures
    (Campaign started by Nick Robinson)
    455 signatures

  22. Andy White says:

    In an absolutely last minute mad dash, the Appeal to save Oaken Woods was delivered to the High Court with two minutes to spare until the 5pm deadline. I saw that there were contradictory instructions for lodging the appeal on the internet, did a bit more home work and realised that sending a letter to KCC wasn’t good enough. It had to be lodged at the Royal Courts with certain forms which I printed off the web, e-mailed to a loyal friend in London who sprinted across town, jumped the queue at, paid the fee and armwrestled the clerk to accept the application without a solicitors name and address. The Grounds of Appeal are copied below. Cross fingers everybody….
    Grounds of Appeal.

    The grounds of appeal are confined to matters of law vis that the secretary of state Mr Eric Pickles has disregarded procedural protocol in signing off planning permission APP/W2275/V/11/2158341. APPLICATION REF. TM/10/2158341

    The necessary conditions for submitting a sec288 objection to a planning application must be on the basis of demonstrating either unreasonableness on behalf of the conclusions drawn or breaches of procedural protocol. The complainant can demonstrate that both of these conditions pertain.
    From; The Limits of Section 288 Proceedings – Sharpe Pritchard
    ‘’Section 288 applications must consider whether all relevant matters were considered at the inquiry, whether all proper procedures have been followed or whether the decision was Wednesbury unreasonable i.e. whether the decision is so unreasonable that no reasonable person acting reasonably could have made it.’’

    The complainant can show that;

    1) The Secretary of State has not addressed the EU birds directive. EU Birds Directive which protects the habitat of wild birds. The EU directive states that;

    “The directive recognises that habitat loss and degradation are the most serious threats to the conservation of wild birds. It therefore places great emphasis on the protection of habitats for endangered as well as migratory species (listed in Annex I), especially through the establishment of a coherent network of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) comprising all the most suitable territories for these species. Since 1994 all SPAs form an integral part of the NATURA 2000 ecological network.”

    The surveys purportedly carried out by the inspector J I Mcpherson in respect of the EU birds directive were not presented to the public hearing nor made available for public scrutiny in line with legal requirements vis transparency which is inherently implicit in procedural requirements.


    The Town and Country Planning (Inquiries Procedure) Rules 1988;
    The inspector may refuse to permit—
    (a)the giving or production of evidence,
    (b)the cross-examination of persons giving evidence, or
    (c)the presentation of any other matter,
    which he considers to be irrelevant or repetitious;

    The complainant maintains that surveys conducted cannot be irrelevant otherwise they would not have been conducted in the first place. To claim otherwise is unreasonable which is also procedurally improper.

    2) The Secretary of State claimed that the ‘need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweighed the loss’ without demonstrating how he came to this conclusion. This phrase is crucial because Mr Pickles is categorically weighing in the balance the relative value of the quarry against Oaken Wood.

    This too is contrary to procedural protocol as the argument over relative value is central to his presentation, indeed it is the lynchpin upon which his conclusions turn and therefore should have been presented to the inquiry.

    Such calculations form the very basis of this contaversial planning decision and withholding them fail the fiduciary expectations of the inquiry. Given the central place in his reasoning ascribed to his weighing up of these relative values it was incumbent upon the minister to present these to the enquiry.

    The final planning order makes no mention of any such calculations but how else could he have arrived at his decision? Either, Mr pickles has arrived at his conclusions on the basis of emotion and intuitive guess work, which would not be reasonable, or he has made a careful analytical appraisal based on concrete facts but withheld them from the inquiry.

    To maintain that key mathematical calculations based on supposedly objective fact are irrelevant is unreasonable and therefore also contrary to procedure.

    • Ella-Jo Mehta says:

      Superb. I’m sure I speak for many.

    • Jacquie Cox says:

      Well done Andy and loyal friend in London!

      • Nikki Williams says:

        Amazing commitment Andy, your persistence for making this happen is deeply impressive – and please do feel free to continue using the blog to keep everyone informed of your progress as it unfolds. Its great to see all the support for you

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      Well done, Andy! This is absolutely first-rate. I think you’ve made a very powerful argument: the question of “relative value . . . is the lynchpin upon which his [mr Pickles’s] conclusions turn and therefore should have been presented to the inquiry.” That seems to me to hit the target dead-centre.

      You certainly got my attention with the opening lines of your comment. Just two minutes to spare – if it had been cut down to 7 seconds, the whole story could have been turned into the next Bond film!

      Many thanks to you and to your friend (the sprinter!) in London. This is great work and terrific news.

    • Paul Beevers says:

      Brilliant move. Whatever happens it starts to force politicians to justify their actions with facts themselves rather than getting away with telling everyone else that they do not produce facts. Well done.

    • Paul Beevers says:

      The question of what happens after 23 years when the Ragstone runs out might be highly relevant in any calculations. The comment about Gallagher’s contingency plan must also be relevant. A decision to import stone from abroad does not have to be made. It is a choice. Restoration of a building could be done with almost any stone if the desire to keep the building is there. If the Ragstone runs out then there is no reason why a building should fall down because other stone will undoubtedly be available. By comparison a wood and its ecosystem is gone, likely forever. The use of different stone should not be all that contentious, after all I thought conservationists these days were keen to highlight where changes to an original structure are made because it is more honest!

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        Just read your comments above, Paul. I couldn’t agree more. Using a substitute for Kentish Ragstone might be far from ideal, but buildings needn’t fall to ruin in the absence of the Ragstone. it’s a very different thing to destroy a long-established ecosystem. And I like your point that Andy White’s determined move confronts politicians with a challenge – to stop waffling and give us the hard facts they’ve based their decisions on.

    • Jacquie Cox says:

      I’m just reading through the Inspectors Report and it dawns on me … The Western extension that will wipe out 33ha of Oaken is worth a fortune to the government in terms of the Aggregates Levy. This section is supposed to produce 16 million tonnes with a levy of £2.00 per tonne straight in to HMRC coffers. That’s not to mention the existing operations. £32 million for Oaken is no small change. No wonder they approved it.

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        That’s an impressive piece of research, Jacquie. And what you’ve found out strikes me as very revealing.

    • Matt Derrington says:

      As we haven’t quite managed to mature enough to live in a genuinely civilised society, where the mere suggestion of cutting down the rarest habitat is met with immediate bemusement and some measure of concern for the lunatic suggesting it, I thank Heavens that there are passionate AND active people like Mr. White, his good friend in London, and his close supporters here on this blog.
      If people like these continue to do all they can, and most of the rest of us support them as much as we can, then there is genuine hope for a future worth living in.

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        Hear, hear, Matt! It’s great to read so many comments in support of Andy White and the terrific work’s he doing, enthusiastically backed up by many others here who are signing petitions, writing to councillers, MPs and MEPs, and reporting back on here on any research they’ve done about the Oaken Wood decision. Mr Pickles’s decision CAN be reversed.

    • Alan Meekings says:

      Well done, Andy. It looks as if Oaken Wood may yet live on for a few more years.

      I’m now about to write to my local district council leader, who knows Eric Pickles well and has already offered to approach Paul Carter, the leader of KCC, to understand Paul’s thinking on this issue. As I’ve heard nothing back from my local council leader for more than a week, I’m going to remind him that saving Oaken Wood is not just a significant issue nationally but also an urgent issue too.

      In this context, do you know when mining in Oaken Wood is scheduled start, unless we can reverse Eric Pickle’s planning approval – best guess, Andy?


      • Joseph Marshall says:

        Good question, Alan. It would be very helpful to know when Gallagher Aggregates Ltd plan to start quarrying in Oaken Wood. Fortunately, Andy has put a crimp in their plan for now! Ultimately, I hope the company will be compelled to abandon the scheme.

        If you get a chance to tell us about the response from your local district council leader, it would be good to hear more. Since your council leader knows Eric Pickles well, your approach sounds very promising – and it may act as a further reminder to Mr Pickles that his decision will continue to be challenged.

        • Alan Meekings says:

          Thanks for your response, Joseph.

          You will have instantly spotted that I have no prior experience in campaigning against planning decisions of this ilk.

          I’d prefer to keep confidential at the moment my email correspondence with my local district council leader and my local MP.

          However, if I get no response soon from Gary Porter and/or John Hayes, then I guess I shall have no have alternative but to share online my earlier correspondence with them.

          Bye for now,


          • Joseph Marshall says:

            Many thanks, Alan. No, I genuinely had no idea you weren’t an experienced campaigner. (But I’m not one myself, so perhaps that explains it!) It’s understandable that you prefer to keep your e-mail correspondence private. I’ll just have to contain my curiosity! But I hope you get favourable answers soon from both Gary Porter and John Hayes. Thanks again for replying so quickly.

          • Alan Meekings says:

            Do you sense there’s any chance that the Gallagher Group might be persuaded to mine elsewhere?

            Obviously this would attract the same tax revenue for HMRC but wouldn’t destroy one of our few remaining ancient woodlands, which the Coalition Government publicly declared they’d rigorously protect.

          • Jacquie Cox says:

            Alan, I doubt GAL can be persuaded to go elsewhere. They already have permission to quarry ragstone at Blaise Farm nearby but they are not currently doing so (if I remember correctly), but I am sure they will get to it eventually. There is too much money to be make at Oaken. The claim that they are quarrying ragstone for building restoration is a bit thin, since only a small portion is going to that – the rest (the vast majority) is crushed for aggregate. It is literally all about making as much money as possible – isn’t that what you would do if you were a big quarrying, developer, land owning business?

            As for when the axe will actually fall on Oaken … I will try to make a more thorough check in the next day or two, but off the top of my head I think the have three years from the date Pickles gave permission, to begin work. The have to notify the Authority within 7 days of having commenced works, that they have done so. So they would get at it before anyone was notified. They do have a schedule of works somewhere that I will be looking for in the next few days, so I will let you all know.

          • Alan Meekings says:

            This is very helpful, Jacquie.

            Do you think it may somehow be possible to persuade the Gallagher Group to mine for aggregates elsewhere in the UK (if only to avoid significant aggravation around mining in Oaken Wood)?

          • Alan Meekings says:

            Thanks, Joseph.

            No replies as yet from either Gary Porter or John Hayes.

            However, it is a Bank Holiday weekend.

            So perhaps I can look forward to a response soon.

          • Alan Meekings says:

            The good news is that I’ve just heard back from my local Council Leader, who is again asking Paul Carter for his explanation for this seemingly unhelpful planning decision, seen from a national perspective.

            More news in due course . . .

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            Hello again, Alan. Sorry not to have responded sooner. I can fully understand Jacqui’s point that the commercial imperative is likely to override other considerations for Gallagher. (Indeed, as I understand it, the Woodland Trust made a very strong case directly to the decision-makers at Gallagher before Eric Pickles ruled on Oaken Wood.)

            But I think there’s still a small chance that Gallagher can be persuaded to change their minds – like most other companies – if they get enough damaging publicity to threaten their image. As you know, Andy White is trying to get 38 Degrees to put their weight behind the campaign to save Oaken Wood. If 38 Degrees offer their support, this could draw a lot of unwanted attention the way of Gallagher Aggregates Ltd.

            I think all we can do is act on the assumption that everyone involved in the proposed destruction of Oaken Wood is open to re-thinking the scheme. But perhaps Jacqui is being more realistic than I am.

            If you – or any other contributor to this blog – want to contact the Gallagher Group to ask them to reconsider, they can be e-mailed at The Chairman of the Group is Pat Gallagher, the Chief Executive is Nick Yandle, and the Managing Director of Gallagher Aggregates Ltd is Andy Bate.

            As well as Jacquie recent comments in this connection, there were also some very interesting remarks made by Fiona Wilson on August 22, 2013 at 8:20.

            I haven’t yet received any reply to my own letter by e-mail to the Gallagher Group, which I sent them just over a week ago.

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            Hello Jacqui, I’ve partly responded to your recent comment in my reply to Alan (above). I think it’s a great idea to find out any details you can from Gallagher’s work schedule. I’m looking forward to hearing any news you can give us. It’s so encouraging to see contributers to this blog coming up with initiatives to gather useful information and keep everyone here informed. The more facts we have at our disposal the better!

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            Sorry, Jacquie – I missed the ‘e’ off the end of your name in my comment above. I’m not the world’s greatest typist!

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        Thanks for keeping us all up to date, Alan. It’s good news that your local Council Leader has got back to you. If Paul Carter responds in turn, it will be intriguing – and possibly very useful – to learn his justification for the planning decsion.

      • Nikki Williams says:

        Hi, the Woodland Trust continues to monitor the delivery of the work at Oaken. We recently spoke to the local authority and they confirmed it will be months before they start even thinking about working on the access to begin the work, let alone the quarry (they still have 2 years of permitted reserves). They are very much busy doing the pre-commencement paperwork, discharging conditions, S106 etc.

        • Alan Meekings says:

          Thanks, Nikki.

          This sounds like good news, in that it seems to give us more time to challenge the planning decision itself or, perhaps, persuade the Gallagher Group to mine for aggregates elsewhere other than in the (increasingly rare) ancient woodland of Oaken Wood.

        • Fiona Wilson says:

          Nikki, as it seems we now have a bit of time, would the Woodland Trust set up an e-petition against the destruction of ancient woodland nationally, but citing Oaken Woods specifically? As you’ll know, an e-petition is for anything that the government is responsible for and if it gets at least 100,000 signatures it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons (the petition against the badger cull was an e-petition). You have all the information to set up a strongly worded petition and can draw on the impressive contributions to this forum (Andy, Joseph, Alan, Paul, Jacquie, etc).

          • Nikki Williams says:

            Hi fiona. We are already on it! We are currently building a big campaign that will fight for no further loss of ancient woodland. It will indeed include tactics such as using the Govenerments e-petition site amongst a lot of other activity that we plan to sustain …. well for as long as it takes to solve the problem of the loop hole in our planning process. We have involved professional planners, ecologists, specialist advisors and campaigners as part of the team & we expect to go live by the end of September. And as we have always said, Oaken will be the example for why the system doesnt work, so Oaken will always be used as evidence meaning that it’s legacy will never go away! We are taking time to build a bigger campaign for ancient woods as the planning system makes it complex and cannot be solved through a quick click, but has potential through lots of different processes and activities.So its fantastic to see you are hoping to become a part of that 😉

          • Hilary Vivian says:

            Oh, bless and prosper all the good, caring people out there who are working so hard, wrangling with red tape, nitty-gritty, and legal detail in order to show the dangerous half-wits at Westminster that we mean business and will not stand by/roll over/lie down etc and lose what is precious and irreplaceable. This would be a wonderful, precendent-setting victory if it could be brought off – not just for humans but for the beautiful and innocent wildlife whose world it is too. Count me in with the campaign – POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

          • Beverley Phillips says:

            Yes, indeed, count me in too. Oaken Wood is not done for yet!

          • Matt Derrington says:

            Nikki, I’m glad you intend that Oaken Wood’s legacy will never die- whatever happens. I just hope you haven’t given up on the wood itself. Esp now your supporters have hopefully blown away your understandable battle fatigue with such impressive dedication, imagination and resourcefulness. An answer would be fine this time- as long as it’s not more ambiguation.

          • Nikki Williams says:

            My apologies if you feel I am talking about Oaken as if it is lost – I do not believe that, purely because of the impressive work you are all acheiving and the renewed hope you have all bought to this fight. Whilst it was the Woodland Trust that acheived its last stay of execution through pushing the system to public inquiry, it is undoubtably totally the work of this community that has acheived Oaken’s recent stay of execution and we fully support your dedication to that. We continue to offer access to information we are aware of to help the case you are all working on together and continue to encourage you all to use this blog as your forum to continue as a team in supporting Andy as he leads this campaign. For the Woodland Trust the planning process we have been through though remains the core of the problem we have for protecting ancient woodland. The system shouldn’t mean we all have to go to this level of protest when trying to stop the loss of our ancient woods, it should simply be protected. It is this failure that Oaken represents and the legacy that we intend on never letting go. And none of that is to say Oaken is lost…through your work it still isnt.

          • Matt Derrington says:

            Hi Nikki. I’m glad you haven’t put Oaken Woods behind you as something too traumatic to deal with. Esp as you simply cannot afford to in this potentially catastrophic, and I mean genuinely catastrophic, precedent. I hope you at least will know that ancient trees are FAR more than a habitat. So I’m still bemused by your apparent unwillingness to re-enter the fray directly and with all the vigour you can muster. It is your duty. And it would point out to other people, theirs.

            I think Andy and his friends have realised the undeniable- you cannot take a place that is so rare and valuable as part of an already too tiny and threadbare web of original ecosystem, and even begin to compare it with some lorry loads of chippings, a bit of facia stone, or more money for shareholders to hoard, and for government officials to throw at a furnace of delusion.

            Obviously I know people will continue to need chippings and facia stone, and jobs, and tokens of exchange, etc. I wish them well in procuring these in sustainable and hopefully more interesting and joyous ways than by environmental and psychic rape. There is surely more to Life than slow death by devastation and stone.

          • Very well put, Matt.
            Nature is beautiful, positive and well-balanced. Humankind (as it wages war on Nature) creates ugliness, destruction, desertification etc.

          • Matt Derrington says:

            Hi Beverley
            Many of us have gone or been led astray, but It’s too late in the day to do anything other than help each other mend our ways and rejoin that larger harmony. If we don’t do all we can to turn around, the other end of the scale waits with open arms and eyes full of anticipation. It sees we’re very nearly within reach.

          • Fiona Wilson says:

            Great Nikki – I am looking forward to hearing more about your campaign in September, and let’s hope Oaken Wood’s contribution is not in the form of a legacy (I don’t know how long you envisage the campaign will take, I will certainly be part of it).

          • Nikki Williams says:

            Totally hope Oaken isnt part of a legacy and with the great work you are all doing, it has renewed hope. The legacy will be that the system failed Oaken years back when the local authority was able to move this proposal into a real threat, forcing us to fight for a public inquiry and then have to go on to spend £100,000plus fighting again and now you are all fighting yet again! This isnt an acceptable way for our processes to work. The NPPF isnt doing its job when it comes to protecting ancient woodland and what has happened at Oaken is the evidence for that statement.

  23. Andy White says:

    today received an e-mail from Lib-Dem spokesman Jasper Gerard asking for info about mounting a sec 288 objection to the planning order. I responded with a variant of my letter to Earl Atlee below. I hope you”ll all agree this is good news…

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      This is really great news. I hope Jasper Gerrard will support your plan to challenge Eric Pickles’s decision via a Section 288 objection.

      The Gallagher Group (of which the quarrying company is a part) states that the Planning Inspector “received and accepted evidence that showed that the proposed site is of low ecological value.” They also noted that “The Inquiry accepted the evidence that 31 of the 33 hectare site is ‘plantation on an ancient woodland site’ – Sweet Chestnut coppice planted in the 19th century. The Secretary of State also agreed with the Inspector that the woodland was of ‘relatively poor quality’.”

      This is what we’re up against – vaguely expressed value-judgements with the force of official pronouncements. How low is “low”? The woodland is alleged to be of “relatively poor quality” – relative to what?

      Where is the consideration of the wider context in all this? Surely the national will was asserted in the public outcry against the government’s plans to sell of the country’s forests? There was a very strong expression of the view that our woods and forests should be safeguarded. The government paid lip-service to this, but now one of their ministers has accepted selective and question-begging arguments to justify doing locally what people evidently didn’t want done nationally. Mr Pickles has set a precedent that gives the government a license to take a ‘salami-slicing’ approach. Now the government can achieve – by a thousand cuts – what it always wanted to achieve in the first place, putting our public woodlands into private hands. This strikes me as undemocratic. The nation has made it plain it doesn’t want this.

      I’ve got no legal knowledge, so I don’t know if there’s a basis in law for arguing that Mr Pickles made a mistake by assigning material value to “priceless” woodland. I think Mr Pickles could object that “priceless” can’t be taken literally and doesn’t have legal force. He could say it was just a word chosen by the Earl Atlee to express a personal view.

      But the general thrust of your reasoning makes sense to me and I think you’ve identified some key wording – “unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss”. The need and benefits may be “clear” to Mr Pickles, but has he made it clear enough to the electorate that they “outweigh” the loss?

      Your argument raises an important question – exactly how did Mr Pickles determine the “weight” or value of the threatened part of Oaken Wood and how exactly did he come up with the conclusion that quarrying Kent Ragstone has a greater weight/higher value than the woodland?

      • Andy White says:

        Hi Joseph, great remarks. The ‘salami slicing’ is, as you so eloquently point out, privatization by other means. It is on this basis that I have been liasing with Fiona Duggan, the Operations director of 38* to ratchet our cause up to the national level and get their entire datbase behind us. ALSO…in the last few hours A SEC 288 OBJECTION TO THE PLANNING ORDER HAS BEEN LODGED at KCC on the grounds that Mr Pickles was in breach of procedural regulations governing legal requirements to have all documentation made available for public scrutiny. As you rightly point out in order to come to the conclusion that the quarry ‘outweighed ‘ the wood he would have to have done the math and showed it at the meeting. No-where in the final order is this made available and he is therefor in breach. I have e-mailed the Gallagher group with this information and reminded them that they are legally bound to desist from any destruction of the woods while this objection is in place.

        • Joseph Marshall says:

          Hi Andy, I’ve just read this. I’m incredibly impressed by the amount of sheer hard work you’re putting into saving Oaken Wood. Every time I revisit this blog you seem to have thought up and acted on a new initiative.

          It’s brilliant news that a Section 288 objection has been lodged with Kent County Council. And it was a very smart move to e-mail the Gallagher Group and tell them they’re legally bound not to destroy Oaken Wood while the objection’s in place.

          I hope Fiona Duggan, the Operations Director of 38 Degrees, will be able to back your efforts. It’s great that you’re communicating with her about Oaken Wood. If you can persuade her to throw her organisation’s full weight into the fight to save the wood, it’ll be an immense achievement.

          Thanks for all you’re doing. (And thanks also for your kind comments to me). Judging by what a number of other contributers to this blog have said, I don’t think I’m the only person who’s been hugely encouraged by your determination. You’re doing terrific work.

  24. Andy White says:

    Hello everyone, I received an e-mail from Jasper Gerard today. He is a Lib Dem spokesman and one of the loudest political voices in opposition to the destruction of Oaken Wood. He asked for some explanation of how a sec 288 complaint might work and what the grounds might be. I have responded already, explaining that Pickles decision could be claimed to be unreasonable on the grounds that he was weighing the priceless (in line with Earl Atlees recent assertions in the House of Lords) against common stone. I added that if this were not the case he could be asked to justify his decision by showing us all the maths that led him to assert that the value of stone ‘clearly outweighed’ the value of ancient woodland. I hope you will all feel that this is a positive step forward and that a sec288 complaint (which would halt any pre-emptive felling) is not far away.

  25. David says:

    All very sad, but what else we can we expect from the most crass, uncivilised, pig-ignorant, banker-loving, money-is-all government this country has ever known.

    • Hilary Vivian says:

      Hey, don’t insult pigs by comparing them with the morons in “government”! I agree with all the rest, though!

  26. Paul Beevers says:

    Don’t forget to notify all your friends and contacts about the petition on Ask those friends to forward to their friends and contacts as well. Numbers mean media and possibly then political attention!

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      Thanks for the reminder, Paul! Yes, more signatures increase the chance of media interest. And media interest means that politicians will suddenly discover they’ve always had a deep love and concern for Oaken Wood in their hearts!

  27. Andrew Korsak says:

    I can hardly believe that with only 2% ancient woodland remaining, Mr Pickles could make such a crass decision as to wantonly cause the destruction of Oaken Wood. How could anyone justify such destruction. If someone had deliberately destroyed a building he would be called a terrorist, but to destroy an irreplaceable woodland with all its life both plant and animal is apparently ok.
    Who could vote for such a Government in the future when it makes an appalling decision like this.

  28. Andy White says:

    The Earl Atlee
    House of Lords,
    SW1A OPW.

    Dear Sir,

    I was delighted to read that you have recently supported the preservation of ancient woodland in the House of Lords. I was particularly moved by your comments that no economic value could be placed on our priceless heritage because it was irreplaceable.
    I have recently become involved in efforts to prevent the destruction of Oaken Wood in Kent for the sake of expanding a quarry. The stumbling block in the law and the basis upon which planning permission was finally granted for the destruction by minister for local government Eric Pickles is that ancient woodland will be preserved “unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.”
    The way this is phrased implicitly suggests that some kind of material value can be placed on ancient woodland. Indeed, that the minister balanced the material value of the wood against a cubic mile of ragstone and decided on the basis of mathematical calculation that the stone’s value ‘clearly outweighed’ the value of Oaken Wood.
    Oaken Wood now teeters on a precipice both literally and figuratively. Having had planning permission granted it is now a matter of time before developers exercise Mr Pickles prerogative. The only hope in English law is that section 288 of the planning statutes is invoked to reverse the decision. Having studied the precedents this is a very difficult clause in the law to apply effectively. It requires the complainant to demonstrate that the person authorising the original application has done so unreasonably.
    It seems to me that, far from being insurmountable, this is where our hope actually lies. In order for Mr Pickles to authorise a warrant for the wood’s demise he would have to have ascribed it with material value. If the wood is priceless this is not a reasonable thing for him to do.
    I would like to ask, will you lend your support to the preservation of Oaken Wood? It is a beautiful corner of our natural world and really should be preserved for posterity. It is the heritage of our nation. Will it really be torn down for the sake of aggregate?
    I implore you Sir, lend your voice to the protection of that which you rightly described as priceless, persuade on behalf of this natural wonder the false comparison made to it by common stone. I ask you Sir, please use your influence to prevent this unfolding calamity. Instigate a section 288 complaint and help us all halt the unreasonable destruction of this most precious place.
    Yours sincerely,
    Andrew J White.

    Cc The Woodland Trust

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      This is an excellent letter.

      One line of attack that the prospective destroyers of Oaken Wood may use is that the quarrying company, Gallagher Aggregates, want to dig for Kentish Ragstone, which isn’t just “common stone”. The Chief Executive of the Gallagher Group, Nick Yandle, has said, “We have always maintained that there is a strong case for extracting high quality Kentish Ragstone from Hermitage Quarry. . . . The future wellbeing of some of the country’s best-loved ancient buildings has also been secured as many were constructed with, and are preserved by using Kentish Ragstone. For this reason the continuing supply of Kentish Ragstone is supported by English Heritage”. Source:

      An attempt to counter your argument might rest on the assumption that our ‘built heritage’ is also priceless and that we need the Kentish Ragstone to maintain it. There seems to be an alternative source for suitable stone in France, as Mr Yandle himself is quoted as acknowledging: ‘”We had to prove there was a need. As well as aggregates there is Kentish ragstone, used on historic buildings in the south east including the Tower of London. Repairs would mean importing from France.”’ Source: article posted on Tuesday, 16 July 2013, in the Mineral Planning section of the Direct Control Services Ltd (DCS) website.

      It would obviously be more expensive (and sacrifice potential jobs in Kent) if the stone were brought here from across the Channel. But there IS an alternative (even if it’s a very costly one) to quarrying in Oaken Wood. There’s no alternative to Oaken Wood itself. If part of it is destroyed, that part is gone for good.

      I wrote to Gallagher Group a few days ago (and copied my letter to them to my MP). In my letter, I said: “I understand that Kentish ragstone is necessary for the repair of historic buildings. It seems perverse, though, to argue in favour of maintaining our architectural and historical heritage by sacrificing a dwindling part of our ancient and natural one.”

      • Jacquie Cox says:

        Besides which, ancient woodland and ancient wooded sites are also PART of the historical heritage and give context to every other part. I believe there is also a site just down the road from Oaken that has Kentish Ragstone, that had planning permission, but the option to quarry there was not taken up or the quarry was shut down due to lack of demand? I don’t remember the exact detail. It may have been assessed as being of lower quality. Maybe Nikki or Kaye can fill in the blanks.

        • Joseph Marshall says:

          I hadn’t thought of it that way, Jacqui, but now that you’ve said it, I can see exactly what you mean about our ancient woodlands giving context to the other parts of our historical heritage. I wonder if Mr Pickles has ever thought of this.

        • Nikki Williams says:

          As part of our evidence at the inquiry we employed a historic landscape expert as an expert witness. He presented a very compelling case around how each ancient woodland is specific to the environment that it has evolved within – hence why each wood is unique and of national improtance.

          As for the other quarry, this is operated by Gallaghers but owned by another company. We had expert geologists involved in analysing the stone quality and the conclusion is that the stone quality is better at Oaken. That said, its still no excuse for the loss of irreplacable woodland.

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            Thanks, Nikki.Your point can’t be repeated often enough:
            “. . . each ancient woodland is specific to the environment that it has evolved within – hence why each wood is unique and of national importance.”

            It’s good to hear about the experts consulted by the Woodland Trust. But it’s maddening that after you’d carefully put together a robust case for the defence of Oaken Wood, Mr Pickles has cast himself in the role of both judge and executioner.

      • Fiona Wilson says:

        Thanks for this Joseph, it will be intresting to see what response you get. If used for aggregate surely there is a substitute, and in any case this is a finite resource – what happens when it (and Oaken Wood) is gone? Quarrying companies like Gallagher must surely be looking to the future and investigating sourcing substitutes and diversifying as a company, and investing in jobs in Kent in this way. Even if Kentish Ragstone is required to maintain ancient buildings, I think the quantities needed will not justify destruction of almost all of Oaken Wood!! (Just how many such buildings are there and how much stone will they need for repair?) Also, the higher costs for importing an equivalent would presumably be more acceptable for use in ancient building repair (compared to its use for aggregate)?

        • Joseph Marshall says:

          Many thanks, Fiona. I haven’t heard from the Gallagher Group yet. If they answer me, I’ll post a comment here about what they’ve said, You’ve made some thought-provoking points here – especially about the diversification of Gallagher’s business and the sourcing of substitutes for Kentish Ragstone. This leads me to think that the Group must have had a contingency plan in the event that Mr Pickles hadn’t decided to permit the extension of Gallagher Aggregates’ operations into Oaken Wood. There must be other choices that don’t involve the destruction of the Wood.

        • Andy White says:

          Dear Fiona, by my calculation only 3.5% of the planned extension will be used for the preservation of ancient buildings. 25,000 tonnes per annum times 23 years divided by 16 million. It is a total of 575,000 tonnes which sounds a lot but would would fit comfortably into 8 olympic swimming pools.

          • Fiona Wilson says:

            Yes I get the same figure Andy! So hardly warrants the prominence given to this end use in the justification for destroying this wood.

  29. Andy White says:

    Dear Jasper Gerard,
    I recently e-mailed you about your suggestion that minister Eric Pickles could well find himself in court regarding his signing off planning permission for the destruction of Oaken Wood in Kent. The 38* campaign calling for him to be indicted is growing and will continue to do so. Public opinion regarding this negligent decision is growing fast.

    I am wondering on what basis he could be indicted. I have sought legal opinion in the matter and it could not be for criminal negligence because the wood is still standing. God willing, it will continue to do so. It has been suggested that he is guilty of ‘willful blindness’ a term that has an uncertain place in legal statutes but was instrumental in the Murdoch case. I quote from the Guardian May 1st 2012,

    ’’ The charge of “wilful blindness” and “wilful ignorance” is referred to four times in the MPs’ report into phone hacking and has been instantly picked up by legal experts as one of the most damning findings.’’

    ‘’ Wilful blindess” also came up during evidence to MPs and James Murdoch was asked the direct question by the Lib Dem MP Adrian Sanders: “Are you familiar with the term ‘wilful blindness’?” Sanders described the phrase as “a term that came up in the Enron scandal … a legal term. It states that if there is knowledge you could have and should have had it.”

    Niri Shan, head of media law at Taylor Wessing, said the phrase was not a formal legal term in the UK. That said, he added: “If you are wilfully blind, from a corporate governance perspective, you have not fulfilled your fiduciary duties.”

    Fiduciary, I had to look it up, means ‘’An individual in whom another has placed the utmost trust and confidence to manage and protect property ‘’.

    I maintain that Eric Pickles has betrayed that trust and committed an act of wilful ignorance in respect of European directives. Could you confirm that your efforts to bring a case against Mr Pickles is underway and that an objection under sec288 of the planning regs is in place. Could you further confirm that this is enough to halt destruction of the wood.
    Yours sincerely
    Andy White
    Cc Woodland Trust

    • Paul Beevers says:

      I cannot see a 38 degrees campaign for Eric Pickles to be indicted. It would be great to back it if it is there. Can you confirm what the campaign is called?

      • Andy White says:

        It is called, ‘Stop the destruction Of Oaken Wood’.

      • Alan Meekings says:

        There appear to be two 38 Degree campaigns with the words “Oaken Wood” in them:

        (1) Save Oaken Wood: see

        (2) Stop the Destruction of Oaken Wood: see

        I did scroll through the current campaigns shown on the main 38 Degrees website at, but couldn’t see either of them. I’m now assuming there’s a big difference between campaigns that are formally supported by 38 Degrees and those that are initiated by 38 Degree members at

        Does anyone know how we can persuade 38 Degrees to put their collective support behind the fight to protect Oaken Wood and other ancient woodlands?


        • Andy White says:

          Hi Alan, I spoke to the Operations Director, Fiona Duggan, at 38* this morning in the attempt to persuade her to lend impetus(and their database) to our cause. She was very encouraging and asked me to put it down in writing. I have done so, the main thrust of the e-mail being that their own successful efforts to prevent privatisation of the forests would be eroded by this landmark decision and that it is effectively privatisation by other means. I included the Earl Atlee’s remarks and copied in my letter to him (above) in order to show that a petition launched by 38* themselves to drive home the priceless status of Ancient Woodland would circumvent the ‘loophole’ exploited by Pickles and render his decision unreasonable in that he weighed up what is pricelss against that which can be ascribed material value. This paves the way for a sec288 complaint which would reverse the decision and prevent any one from trying the same stunt elsewhere. I will let you know when they get back to me in the news feed.

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            This is great work, Andy!

          • Fiona Wilson says:

            Good move, phoning 38* – if they get behind the cause it would be a big achievement. We need to get some big names/’celebrities’ involved, such as Jonathan Porritt, and others who were involved in the forest privatisation reversal, so would this be a way to do this? In response to Alan, I did find and sign a member’s campaign proposal for Oaken Wood, but couldn’t navigate my way back to it subsequently (I actually find the website a bit tricky to use, but could just be me). Great work getting Jasper Gerard involved and also the letter to Earl Atlee.

  30. Paul Beevers says:

    I was just about to create a different petition on 38 degrees when I saw the one by Judith B on Care 2. I hope people will back this one by Judith. It already has nearly 13,000 signatures. I plan to email all my contacts and I hope everyone else will do the same. Everyone commenting here is bemoaning the fact that nothing is being done, well, back Judith B and lets build a campaign!!! With respect I don’t think the existing 38 degrees petition appealing to an MEP on grounds that the Woodland Trust do not think will work will go very far although well done for making the effort. Come on guys let us build some media interest by getting the numbers up!

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      This is excellent news. It’s very encouraging that Judith B’s petition has nearly reached 13,000 signatures. (I understand your desire to encourage everyone to concentrate their efforts, but if anyone wants to sign both petitions, so much the better, I think!)

      Another contributor here, Alan Meekings, commented on August 15, 2013 at 19:51, encouraging people to write to their MPs. That’s a good idea, too.

      And the quarrying company, Gallagher Aggregates Ltd, part of the Gallagher Group, can be contacted via Just because Mr Pickles says it’s OK for them to bring bulldozers into Oaken Wood doesn’t mean we can’t ask them not to.

    • Andy White says:

      It will work if we all sign it Paul. Its as simple as that. My appeal to the MEP is to get a halt made on the planning application. It was conceived on the basis that the wood is not lost for as long as it stands. I aver that 450 signatures in five days is a marvellous response. There are actually 3 petitions out there, all a bit different, all good and worthy. I signed them all. What about you?

      • Alan Meekings says:

        Hello Andy,

        I’ve signed all the sundry petitions and have also forwarded the relevant links to all of my social media contacts.

        Do you think it may somehow be possible to convince 38 Degrees to back a campaign to support Oaken Woods, not least in the context of their earlier (seemingly successful but now obviously unsuccessful) campaign to save our woodlands?


        • Andy White says:

          I will call them today Alan

          • Paul Beevers says:

            I emailed Save Our Woods a couple of days ago as they were the initiators of the FC Campaign to see if they could get 38 degrees to email all those who signed up for the FC campaign and use their database. I haven’t heard back yet but that may indicate anything or nothing. Unlikely I know that 38 degrees would do that but they might. The consequences of having 2 big pushes is weariness and we would need to email everyone again on Care 2 to register on 38 degrees and many that registered on Care 2 may not be contactable.

        • Alan Meekings says:

          It seems 38 Degrees are not willing to persuaded to support the protection of Oaken Wood.

          Am I missing something here?

          • Paul Beevers says:

            Did 38 degrees give a reason? Sadly I have not had a response either from Save Our Woods from when I asked them to support the Caree2 campaign.

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            I’m wondering if I’ve missed something myself, Alan. The last thing I remember reading about this here is that Andy White was liaising with Fiona, the Operations Director at 38 Degrees. I didn’t think that 38 Degrees had made a decision yet on whether or not to get involved in the campaign to save Oaken Wood. If anyone can point out a comment I may have missed, or has any recent news, I’d be grateful for an update.

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            Hello Paul, it’s disappointing that Save Our Woods haven’t responded to you about getting behind the Care 2 petition. I suppose not every effort is going to meet with success, but I reckon the important thing is that you sent the e-mail and asked the question. There’s no way of knowing for certain in advance which initiatives will pay off and which won’t. But if we all keep doing as much of this kind of thing as we can, I think we increase our chances of saving Oaken Wood.

  31. Joseph Marshall says:

    Readers of this blog who haven’t already seen it may be interested in this newspaper article today:

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        Many thanks, Andy. I’ve just read the article you linked to. I hope others will read it, too. I admire your refusal to accept that Oaken Wood is doomed. It’s brilliant to see such passionate determination. Things aren’t looking good, but the destroyers haven’t won yet. The article is inspring. I especially liked your son’s words. Thanks again.

        • Joseph Marshall says:


        • Alan Meekings says:

          The issue of Oaken Woods is not just some minor planning issue that’s unimportant in the greater scale of things. It actually goes right to the heart of what it means to live a democratic society.

          I’ve now suggested to everyone in this country that they contact their local elected representatives about this issue to ask whether or not they personally support the decision made by Eric Pickles to approve quarrying in the ancient woodland of Oaken Wood.

          It will be very interesting to hear what responses come back.

          • Andy White says:

            wELL DONE Alan. Stalwart resolve!

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            I completely agree, Alan. The political process seems to have become detatched from its purpose – to serve democracy. Words like ‘localism’ give the impression that democracy is operating as it should, but politicians’ words and actions don’t correspond. The democratic will was clearly expressed when the government was given an almighty kick in the pants for proposing to sell off our woods and forests. Because they couldn’t do this in one go, they now seem to be doing it piecemeal – and glossing over their actions with jargon and verbiage.

            As you rightly say, the question of Oaken Wood goes straight to the heart of this.

            I’ve written to my MP.

    • Fiona Wilson says:
      This article is also of interest, and useful for people writing to their MP

      • Andy White says:

        The main politicians involved as far as I know are Jasper Gerard, Lib Dem MP for Maidstone who is liasing with Catherine Bearder MEP. I suggest if you are going to fire off a letter to an MP we co-ordinate and focus on these two who have already stated they intend to do something. Whatever we may feel about Brussels, European law around woodland preservation is a lot tighter than it is here so we need to get behind any efforts to bring Legislation to bear on Gallagher and Pickles.

        • Alan Meekings says:

          Great thinking, Andy.

          You open up a new possibility – let’s call it the ‘European Parliament dimension’ – that would never otherwise have occurred to me – for which many thanks, Andy.

          I shall immediately now write to my local, Lib Dem MEP in the East Midlands, Bill Newton-Dunn, as Bill may be willing to lend his support to Catherine Bearder’s efforts, especially as Catherine is another Lib Dem MEP.

          While I’m not a party-political person and distrust most politicians, I do hold Bill Newton-Dunn in high regard. Bill was helpful in the context of “Hugh’s Fish Fight”, the high-profile campaign which successfully sought to change EU fisheries policy (as, incidentally, was Catherine Bearder too).

          Do please let me know how else I may be able to help save Oaken Wood, and thereby protect other ancient woodlands.

          I was active earlier in the campaign to reverse Caroline Spelman’s catastrophic woodland policy . . . and, silly me, I really believed the battle had been won.

          It is now clear that Eric Pickles’s mindless pursuit of his “localisation” policy – as in, “decisions should be made locally, this is a decision that was made locally, therefore I must support it” – runs counter to the Coalition Government’s declared policy on woodlands.

          I look forward to hearing if there is any basis on which we can challenge either Eric Pickles himself or his department on this obviously perverse ministerial decision.


        • Joseph Marshall says:

          Thanks, Andy. This is very useful. I plan to e-mail Catherine Bearder and Jasper Gerard this evening.

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        Good link, Fiona – thanks! I see the rest of the headline is “. . . but government assurances ring hollow”.

  32. Joseph Marshall says:

    The company that wants to extend its quarrying operation into Oaken Wood is Gallagher Aggregates Ltd, part of the Gallagher Group.

    The Gallagher Group’s website ( says that people can e-mail comments to them at this address:

    The Chairman of the Group is Pat Gallagher, the Chief Executive is Nick Yandle, and the Managing Director of Gallagher Aggregates Ltd is Andy Bate.

    If Eric Pickles won’t reverse his decision, perhaps the company could be asked not to press ahead with their plans and to leave Oaken Wood alone.

    Is there any reason why the Woodland Trust shouldn’t draft a letter for the attention of these three decision-makers at the company, asking them to re-think their commercial operations for the greater public and environmental good? Members and supporters of the WT could then be invited to be signatories.

  33. Paul Beevers says:

    I noticed comments about people managing to halt the sell off of the Forestry Commission or “Public Forest Estate”. I was one of those that that thought we had won a victory but not the war and was still conscious that the Government would aim to thwart the aims of those who signed the petition as well as the intent of the report produced by the Independent Panel on Forestry. Guess what! Go to “Save Our Woods” and Latest Updates and read what some real analysis of the Governments proposals reveals. If you aren’t worried then you should be.

  34. Sandie says:

    I have signed Frances’ petition and Andy’s petition and hope they do some good but sadly doubt it. We can at least use this as a salutary lesson to be more individually active and vocal before a decision is made rather than after it.

    Although too late for Oaken Woods, it’s not too late try to save the lonesome Scots Pine – but there are only TWO DAYS left to register your objection. If you haven’t already done so, please send it off today, it must be in by the 18th. The letter is already written so you only have to sign it.

    Let’s channel our anger into something positive!

  35. Joseph Marshall says:

    How many viable sites are there in the British Isles where companies could dig out quarries for their aggregates businesses?

    How many sites are there in the British Isles where ancient woodlands remain?

  36. Alan Meekings says:

    I’m forwarding (below) the text of an email I’ve just sent to my local MP, John Hayes.

    I’ll let this forum know what response I get back from John Hayes.

    Meanwhile, I would strongly urge everyone who objects to mining in Oaken Woods to write their local MP.

    I suspect this perverse decision by 62.5% of the members of the Planning Committee at Kent County Council will not be reversed unless there’s a movement in Parliament to see this decision overturned in the interests of our nation.

    “Hello John,

    You may be unaware that Oaken Woods in Kent is part of our small, remaining national legacy of ancient woodlands.

    However, doubtless you will remember me writing to you, a few years back, about Caroline Spelman’s ill-conceived policy to sell off our national woodland estate.

    To your abiding credit, John, you helped millions of people like me to persuade Caroline Spelman to reverse this otherwise catastrophic Coalition Government decision.

    Following this change of policy, you will also recall that the Coalition Government promised to guarantee to protect our ancient woodlands. I can send you the precise wording, if you wish.

    Unfortunately, and presumably in the interests of promoting ‘localism’ and supporting local decision-making, Eric Pickles has just approved a planning application for mining for ‘aggregates’ (hardly a world shortage commodity, but certainly a money-making business for those involved) in the ancient woodland of Oaken Woods in Kent.

    While I fully support the concept of localism, it seems to me that there has to come a point where national interests need to be taken into consideration – and I would personally draw the line at the destruction of our very few remaining ancient woodlands.

    You may be unaware, John, that the planning decision to approve mining in Oaken Woods was made by the Planning Committee of Kent County Council on a vote of 10 to 6 – which is hardly an overwhelmingly resounding democratic endorsement.

    Surely this small (but hugely significant) decision by a local Planning Committee in Kent cannot be allowed to determine national policy regarding the preservation of our ancient woodlands – or can it?

    Apart from me buying a tent, heading off to camp in Oaken Woods and being evicted on national television, is there any way you think this perverse, hugely counter-productive decision can possibly be reconsidered, seen in the context of the broader national perspective?

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts, John, and also the thoughts the other people copied on this message, involved in politics locally, whom I hold in the highest regard.



    • Joseph Marshall says:

      Hello, Alan Meekings. I thought this was an excellent letter: you’ve made some crucial points very cogently. It will be interesting to see how John Hayes, MP, responds.

      • Alan Meekings says:

        Thanks for your encouraging response, Joseph.

        I’m currently awaiting a response from my local MP, John Hayes.

        However, I’ve already received an extremely helpful response from the Leader of my local District Council, Gary Porter, who is willing to ask Paul Carter, the Council Leader at KCC, for an explanation, seen from Paul’s perspective, of this seemingly perverse planning decision which demonstrably flies in the face of national interests.

        I’ll let you know what I hear back.

        What I don’t currently understand is how a planning decision made locally and then approved by Eric Pickles can subsequently be legally contested.

        Perhaps some has already answered this question.

        • Joseph Marshall says:

          Many thanks, Alan. It’s very good news about the helpful response from the Leader of your local District Council. I’m eager to know what response he’ll get from Kent County Council’s Leader, so I’ll look out for any updates from you after you’ve heard back.

          I took the liberty of writing to your MP, John Hayes. I told him that I was a Kent resident, who’d seen the text of your letter to him in this blog and that I wholeheartedly endorsed what you’d written to him. I don’t expect to receive a reply, as I’m not one of Mr Hayes’ constituents, but I wanted to let him know you aren’t alone in the views you expressed.

  37. Paul Beevers says:

    Why doesn’t the Woodland Trust indicate what other action it could take? For example does it believe there are grounds for asking the EC to investigate under the Wildlife and Habitats Directive?

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      This sounds like a good idea, Paul Beevers. Any idea for legitimate action that can be taken to save Oaken Wood is surely worth the Woodland Trust’s while to look into further.

    • Kaye Brennan says:

      We have looked at this (and other options regarding the Oaken Wood decision) Paul and Joseph, as Nikki explains in her previous comment here:

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        Hello, Kaye. Many thanks for taking the trouble to reply, and to refer Paul Beevers and me to Nikki’s earlier explanation. I’m sure the Woodland Trust has explored a wide range of possible responses. It’s understandable that the Trust may have decided its energies are now better directed towards fresh campaigns – I imagine you don’t have limitless money and a staff of thousands! But I’m bitterly angry about Eric Pickles’s decision and I intend to continue challenging it in any small way I can.

        • Andy White says:

          Erm,… the wt is not allowed to make such suggestions… government funding and all that…….

          • Jacquie Cox says:

            Andy, your comment about government funding is a little misleading. Let’s try to be fair in spite of the unfairness of the situation. I have to declare an interest here as a long term VOLUNTEER on the WT Woods under Threat team. Not that it matters, just being up front.

            This from the WT website:

            “The Woodland Trust receives funding from a wide range of sources including membership, legacies, donations and appeals, corporate supporters, grants and charitable trusts including lottery funding, other organisations and landfill tax.”

            “The Woodland Trust benefits from a wide variety of organisations that provide funding towards environmental and community projects right across the UK.

            These organisations include statutory organisations that are set up by the government, such as Natural England, the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA). We also receive funding from the European Union through programmes such as Interreg and European Structural Funds.”

            So yes, the WT cannot suggest or recommend that we carry out any action that is illegal or unlawful, not only because it receives funding from these orgs, but also because many of the average joe supporters would not approve of such actions. While they should (imho) support direct action, not everyone does.

            Admittedly, a statement to this effect at the beginning would have been helpful in preventing our frustration at what APPEARED like the WT having given up (Nikki? Kaye?). I am sure that the WT will continue to campaign on whatever basis they can, while the rest of us will do what we can. Don’t forget that both have a common goal.

            Perhaps it is time to take this discussion elsewhere? We could set up a group/forum/page where discussion about actions to taken can be discussed? Or join an existing one – if anyone knows of one.

  38. Joseph Marshall says:

    We can fight back. There are petitions we can sign (see previous comments by other contributers here). And we can communicate directly with Eric Pickles. I’ve just e-mailed him as follows:

    Dear Mr Pickles,
    Please change your mind about Oaken Wood. You’re making an avoidable error. It’s not too late to reverse a mistaken decision.
    Oaken Wood should be conserved and cherished.
    Yours sincerely,
    Joseph Marshall

  39. Deborah Mingham says:

    It is a shame so few people can make a decision that will affect so many in the years to come. Something survives long enough to become ancient and our generation ends it in a click.

  40. John Perry says:

    I fully endorse all of the above comments. I find it frustrating that even a politician such as Pickles can commit such utter ‘environmental sacrilege’.

  41. Hilary Vivian says:

    The contemptible pickles and all his ilk, the ironically-titled environment minister paterson and the schoolboy-pseudo pm and “chancellor” are all too thick and too deep up the fundaments of big business to value what is truly precious and irreplaceable. How can we stop their despicable destruction of what’s left of green England? What about the wildlife? It’s their world too and I weep for our fellow creatures. Near here, in Bude, Cornwall, there was overwhelming public opposition to a new housing development and it was refused. Until pickles got on board at appeal, overturned the council refusal and the developer has now started building on this green site. We need a revolution by those who care about what matters.

  42. E. J Gasson says:

    We are the custodians of the lovely buildings and countryside of this country, and must care for them to leave them for future generations. After all, we can enjoy them today only because past generations have looked after them for us.

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      “Custodians” is exactly the right word. But so many of our politicians behave like little overlords and mini-emperors. They’ve lost sight of the fact that they represent us. They’re public servants, but they behave as if they ruled us. Most of them seem to have become the puppets of commercial organisations. And these organisations are unfit to act as custodians of anything except the pursuit of their own profit – which is fair enough as far as it goes, but an absolute menace when profit becomes the guiding spirit of an entire society.

  43. steve johnson says:

    This Government disgusts me!
    There is nothing with any value other than for short term gain;but then when you have Owen Paterson as environment secretary for instance, what chance is there? Bio diversity offsetting anyone?
    Roll on the next election!

    • Vince Haigh says:

      And pray tell, who will you vote for – more of the same?

      As I have stated previously, the Lib/Lab/Con cabal are all as one, working to the same agenda, which is one not in the interests of the British people. Deliberate destruction of our landscape and institutions, as well as the dismantling of our manufacturing are just a few for starters…

      • donna newton says:

        Could not have put it better myself,we will have no heritage left soon.Our woodlands are part of our heritage and should be treated with respect and care.This country is becoming too over populated.

  44. Andy White says:

    The 38* petition is out. Scroll down

    • Fiona Wilson says:

      Hi Andy,
      thanks for setting up the petition. I found another item on their website some days ago, for which I ‘voted’, now can’t find it. I think your petition is well worded and strong with the exception of the personal invective against Eric Pickles (”disastrous fool’, ‘pompous twit’). I suggest you remove this as (even if Eric Pickles is one of their least favourite people) I think it will put people off signing.
      Best regards

      • Joseph Marshall says:

        Hello, Fiona Wilson. You’re advice about the wording of Andy White’s petition is sensible. It may be better not to say that Mr Pickles is a “disastrous fool”. Sometimes a truth is better left unsaid for the sake of tact. Andy White is right, though! Mr Pickles IS a disastrous fool.

        • Andy White says:

          It is sensible, you are right…. But where did sensible ever get us? its about time we called a spade a spade and a fool a fool. And, i have to say, i was really holding back on the language. If we can’t let fly a little at those who are utterly destroying our heritage then what are we about? How will we ever be taken seriously. Freedom of speech doesn’t exist unless you use it……Tact is no good, we are way past that. ‘Oh excuse me, my good man, but would you mind ever so much not tearing our children’s legacy out of the ground, there’s a good chap.’ For god’s sake, its time to go for the throat or lie back and think of middle England whilst Pickles and his cronies have their way with us. We’re being had people, by someone we wouldn’t even invite to dinner. Tact? Indict the b******

          • Fiona Wilson says:

            Andy, you are making some valuable contributions to this forum, but I still saythat there is no place in a petition for personal abuse – the facts regarding the destruction of the woods speak for themselves. It’s not about being sensible, I think the abusive language discredits your petition and I may be wrong but people are less likely to sign it and circulate it. There is another 38 degree petition, to Eric Pickles, posted by Nick Robinson, for anyone who wants to sign this and pass it on:

          • Susan Shaw says:

            Sorry Fiona, but I think you are wrong. Andy is doing an ace job & we should support his efforts not criticise him. Rock on Andy

          • Jacquie Cox says:

            I agree with Fiona. From my personal interactions with government, I can attest that they do not suffer fools gladly. If they can write you off as a loon they will. Don’t forget … they live in a rarified atmosphere. No reasonable, educated, right-thinking person would make ad hominem attacks on another, therefore you cannot be a reasonable, educated, right-thinking person, therefore I can dismiss and ignore you as some ignorant that doesn’t know what is good for them.

            Besides, if you act like a loud mouth thug, then how can you possibly claim the higher moral ground? Nobody is criticising Andy. But his methods could use a little refinement. It is harder for them to dismiss you when you talk to them on their own level.

  45. Vera Nichols says:

    A terrible decision. Destruction of something far more precious than the Government is able understand, and which is totally irreplaceable.

  46. Andy White says:

    Eric Pickles is quoted in the Sunday Telegraph as saying that travellers ”should not be allowed to trash the Green Belt.” What? Hello! ‘Do not throw your garbage in the wood whilst i am busy with the important job of gouging the entire thing out of the ground.’

    Is there an award somewhere for this kind of hypocricy? A gilded Pickle perhaps?

    • Joseph Marshall says:

      Great comment!

      Lots of people have offered thought-provoking contributions, but this remark stood out for me. It nails Mr Pickles for the hypocrite he is.

      Where do such odious people come from? Why do they ever choose to go into public life? What do they think gives them the right to chuck the precious jewel of our heritage onto the rubbish heap?

  47. Martin Blain says:

    Is this really the Greenest Government Ever? You will be judged very harshly!

    • Angela Griffiths says:

      It’s disgusting that big business, once again, runs roughshod over the environment and the wishes of local people to protect the environment in which they have to live. This Government espouses itself to be ‘green’, but look at the changes it’s also making to the Planning Laws in favour of developers! Where money is concerned, it seems that the environment will never win. The arguments around creating employment etc. etc. are frequently wheeled out as propaganda, only because the Government gets us into the position in the first place and has no idea of how to develop sustainably. Usurping the environment is a short term strategy that will have devastating long-term consequences because of the short-sightedness of the people in power.

  48. R A Seagrave says:

    Humans can never recreate a natural habitat. What we destroy cannot be remade. It will NEVER be the same again. Get it!!! When we have destroyed the last fragment, only then will we realise what we have lost.

  49. Carol & Jeff Gray says:

    We can’t believe that a decision has been made to destroy yet more trees, when this country has the fewest trees of any European country. What about the wildlife habitat is that not important too?
    This used to be a green and pleasant land, but is fast becoming a land of roads and industry. Do the powers that be not understand the importance of their wrecking decision.

  50. Tim Goddard says:

    This won’t surprise anyone who has been watching the governments record on ecology and “green” policy. From the lack of any movement on Marine Conservation Zones, no discussion on charges for single-use carrier bags, the re-run of the Thames Airport farce, or the Severn Barrage to so many more. The voting public who care about the environment have only one powerful tool to wield, to show our contempt of this “greenest government ever”, we should vote against and voice why!

  51. M McIntyre says:

    The knock on effect for generations to come is that wildlife sqeezed out green spaces built on, we need to protect what we have left, instead of putting money first or all our grand children will inherit is concrete and pollution.

  52. Kevin Baker says:

    It is now time we admit to ourselves that Mr Pickles and his ilk are not merely misguided and ill-informed, they are malignant and wilfully destructive. This is an evil act; deliberate vandalism on a grand scale. Just as we know not to trust anything this government says – especially regarding the environment – we know that this unique and precious web of life has been destroyed. Please do not encourage these people by voting for them.

  53. Terry McKenna says:

    I have, for several reasons, gradually been losing faith in this Government to the extent that I’d become very uncertain how I would vote in the next Election. The decision to allow the destruction of yet more of our precious woodland heritage guarantees my future vote will not
    be with either of the parties currently in power.

  54. Terry McKenna says:

    I have, for several reasons, gradually been losing faith in this Government to the extent that I’d become very uncertain how I would vote in the next Election. The decision to allow the destruction of yet more of our precious woodland heritage guarantees my future vote will not be with either of the parties.currently in power.

  55. raymond clayton says:

    Mr Pickles if it was on your doorstep it would not happen well done you should be sacked but i,m sure you will get a bonus instead

  56. Yvette Coulthard says:

    This is heart-breaking. I returned home from many years living in the United Arab Emirates, where no consideration is given to the environment. They do not have any laws in place to protect wildlife etc. I was really looking forward to being back in a more ‘civilised’ country where ecology matters. I expected much better of this government and am bitterly disappointed in them! What can be done now???

  57. Joseph Marshall says:

    Mr Pickles, you are a destructive maniac. You are an utter fool.

  58. Alan Mountfield says:

    Congratulations Mr Pickles, well done. Yet another piece of our so called “Green and Pleasant Land” lost forever!

  59. Colin Crewdson says:

    Presumably this deeply precious stone can’t be found anywhere else. Not under any adjacent ‘green desert’ fields for example?
    The principle this decision has been based on is the time-honoured one of selling your grandmother for a few bob.
    Incidentally, why not add a new clause to our new citizen’s charter, “to defend and conserve our native natural environment”? Because our politicians are occupied with lining their own and their mates’ pockets, as they are everywhere in the world, and have no time for the things that other people value.

    • Andy White says:

      I agree, the fact is the government, every government, has, as its first priority, the maintainance of its own power base. It does not need you and me for that.

      The fact that they can be elected out doesn’t bother them in the slightest because its their money that runs things and not their office. Besides, an eternal game of political musical chairs suits them perfectly. No-one has to take responsibility because everything was the fault of the last bunch in office which we can’t tidy up and are far too busy with our own nefarious policies and broken electoral promises to be bothered with anyway.

      THE GOVERNMENT RELIES ON OUR FURY BEING POURED INTO VOTING THEM OUT OF OFFICE IN 2015. It maintains social control. ‘Don’t do anything now, just use the power of your ballot in a few years time’.!! This creates an illusion of people power and keeps us quiet. We are so fed with how evolved our political system is we don’t question it even when it pulls stunts like this. The fantasy that we can intervene on behalf of Nature by getting rid of the government is like saying we are being politicaly potent by choosing to be punched by the left hand of Corporate Greed rather than the right.

      It will be too late for Oaken Wood in 2015. We cannot rely on our representatives. The notion that they represent us is a vain hope that somehow just won’t lie down and die even when we are betrayed so utterly. How gullible are we ??? OCCUPY THE WOOD.

  60. Gina Kirby says:

    Every time I contact my MP about something like this – Mr Stuart Andrew (he gets no right honourable from me) he tells me that the “last government” are to blame and that this government is the “greenest ever”. Lies and propaganda.

  61. Michael Hawes says:

    An ignorant and arrogant decision. The government should be ashamed of itself.

  62. Phil Baker says:

    I always find it amusing that Europe, US etc. lecture Brazil, various parts of Africa and Asia about deforestation and yet we find it impossible to save a tiny plot of important woodland. Ridiculous!

  63. Rebecca Short says:

    It’s easy to be cynical but faced with the evidence it is painfully clear than a tory government will always put money over public need. A conservative decision maker will always see the financial bottom line as the be all and end all despite the environmental capital vastly outweighing short term gains. Mr Pickles shows himself to be arrogent, ignorant and totally devoid of a capacity to take expert advise and things he knows little about.

  64. Peter Beebee says:

    Capitalism can not work in the interest of the people or the enviroment. Treat the cause not the symptons. Take collective controll of our world.Run by the people for the people. Otherwise we will be talking about the same problems into the future. Example, watch a BBC Question time program from thirty years ago and you will find they are discussing the same issues as we are today. You want to save our woodlands then vote for one world without ownership and leaders.

  65. Michael says:

    How the scant few pennies scraped up (in the grand scheme of things) by this utterly reprehensible action could possibly come close to mitigating the negligent destruction of something so patently irreplaceable is entirely beyond me. It amply demonstrates, once again, the present government’s towering hubris and profound contempt for the country they apparently lead.

  66. Rebecca says:

    I was disappointed and saddened to learn of this terrible outcome. I shall bear it in mind when deciding how to place my vote at the General Election. I wish that our ancient woodlands were given the protection that I and so many others feel that they warrant. They are truly special places that, once lost, are irreplaceable – taking with them the many social and environmental benefits.

  67. Hey would it be decent to cut out some of a person’s lungs if they were already struggling? it seems that’s exactly what you’re doing – please please don’t do this…. stop. just stop. and stop it. we are not exactly numbers and ticky boxes we are feeling breathing complex & ultimately beautiful beings and part of an equally amazing system. i feel sad that you have lost faith in the joy of this world. we are souls and connected in a fundamental way we are just beginning to understand the edges of. would you rather live in a quarry or a beautiful old forest which would nourish and shelter and inspire you? make the world you want to live in & trust your deepest wisest inner voice – go on you have a chance to save the world! thanks for reading this…. with love Janet

  68. Senua says:

    So much for the Greenest Government ever. What with fracking and HS2 there wont be anything left of our countryside.

  69. Jacquie Cox says:

    Hey Nikki, I was wondering why my comment from 29 July is still under moderation?

    • Kaye Brennan says:

      Hi Jacquie! All comments captured by our rather over-enthusiastic spam filter 🙂 have now been freed, your comment should be live now? Sometimes if they include several links or exclamation marks, for example, or are lengthy, a comment can be mistaken as a marketing email and captured for moderation, we try to watch out most days and free the genuine ones as soon as we can.

  70. alex says:

    Politicians neve seem to listen to the people and big businesses don’t care about anything except their profits at the cost of our future. Both should hang their heads in shame. Dreadful.

  71. Des Lloyd says:

    I as many many others are distraught over this governments so called green policy,housing estates are being built on greenfield sites whilst brown field sites are left desolate.
    Thousands of acres of green sites are likely to be built on because the government says we need the land for housing,while major developers are sat on thousands upon thousands of building plots with planning permission already granted on them,but wont build because “they wont make a big enough profit at the present time”.
    And here we are yet again with yet another ancient,irreplaceable woodland about to be destroyed for short term gain by a few (probably conservative party donors).
    How many of these millionaire politicians would have granted this planning permission if they had lived next to it or it had affected them,or had actually listened properly and taken notice of the local population and people who really know about such places .
    How many fingers on one hand ???

  72. Vincent says:

    I am afraid Mr Cameron has lost a voter. I am sick and tired of all the posturing re their green credentials. They should all be ashamed of their actions. You cannot trust a single word they say. Who do we vote for? We need decisive action to save this country for our children. I am so sad re Oaken Wood.

  73. Lorainne says:

    It is a sad day when we feel it necessary to destroy our heritage. Slowly we are removing all that makes these Isles Great.

    • Vince Haigh says:

      Indeed ‘we’ are Lorraine but are you aware yet that it is being done delberately?

      No, I am not insane and it is most definitely not a conspiracy theory. There are more than a few organisations out there working hard to expose what the mainstream political Parties are really up to and who their puppet-masters are. People need to wake up and realise where the UK is heading.

  74. Donna Marks says:

    Mr Pickles has got us all in a pickle….

    There is no limit to what our some of these self serving councillors and MPs will go in order
    to bolster up their own earnings.. and no limit to the lies and tales they will spin to trick us into thinking they are doing all or this for the prosperity of our country.

    This not just an ill thought out plan, you can forgive people for being naïve or for mistakes but not for deliberate disregard and putting money before the people and the planet every time.

    What ever your political leanings it will not protect us from being lied to.
    These politicians posture and pontificate in Westminster putting in for expenses and massive pay rises. That’s when they are not dozing off in the House of Commons having their “power naps” while the rest of us just have to bow under the pressure. The ones who can bow just crack instead.

    They bang on about cuts and when they can’t cut services they just cut down woodland instead.

    There are loads of ways for them to grab and develop land then use the money to pad out their ever increasing salaries. Try stopping them, they already have so called “consultations” signed and sealed.

    Even in Shabby Slough Town they control the local media and can have online comments removed.

    Local Labour in Slough are turning all fields, into housing for outsiders and single faith facilities to
    their dumbed down grateful voters voting. They have already recommended that parish councils be scrapped claiming they are a bad use of taxpayers money, not effective etc. when the real reason they are getting them scrapped is because they want the few acres of green space below them. The rot had spread faster than any forest fire or elm disease.

  75. Vince Haigh says:

    Compare and contrast David Cameron’s electioneering promise to be ‘the greenest Government ever’ with the recent statement by Planning Minister Nick Boles, that ‘we need to build on 1,500 square miles of English countryside’. We now learn that Eric Pickles is to allow the destruction of a remaining piece of precious ancient woodland. On top of that, I am personally witnessing some serious loss of greenfield and even greenbelt sites, in my own area, thanks to implementation of the NPPF (in reality, a ‘green light for developers’.

    Frankly, I am sick to death of the lies, deceit and corruption of the Lib/Lab/Con cabal and their pandering to greedy, large corporations. The Green Party is ‘green on the outside and ‘red’ on the inside and The UKIP is heavily pro -‘fracking’. Come next year’s MEP elections and the 2015 general election, therefore, I will be voting for the British National Party – the only political Party that is genuinely passionate about conserving our landscape and which is against the Establishment profiteering from useless windfarms and destructive ‘fracking’.

  76. S Shaw says:

    Eric Pickles is a bone headed business supporting typical tory who thinks of NOTHING but profit AT ANY PRICE. May your seat go the same way as Oaken Wood. You are a danger to the planet.

  77. David says:

    To echo others, our government always seems to put backing business ahead of preserving our natural resources. This is a very short-sighted view, destroying something which is unique & irreplaceable just to keep the wheels of industry turning. When given the choice why do politicians so rarely justify the trust we place in them?

  78. Arthur Blaney says:

    I am afraid Mr. Pickles was given his post to bluster and bully this non-green government’s policies through legislation. He no doubt believes he is doing a first class job! I voted for them, but I, like, am sure, countless thousands, have been disappointed with this government’s attitude towards our countryside. Unfortunately, those in power seem to have forgotten that if you ignore Nature, then Nature will ultimately ignore you; the only thing that will eventually survive are the plants and insects that destroy. Oaken Wood, like all ancient woods, is a sad loss.

  79. Darren says:

    This is just one of many issues where our government are failing us (I include all political parties).
    For 400 years this country has lead the world in democracy. It is now time for us to overhaul an obsolete political system and show the rest of the world the way forward once more.

    The people of this country need to be given more say in important decisions, with the digital revolution this should be easily possible. The public should be empowered so they can stand up to the corporations and banks who appear to run this country.

  80. Stephanie Lyons says:

    I am sorry to say I didn’t even know about this or would have been fighting it. I will now do everything I can.
    I will not stand by and let humans behave like bullies destoying wildlife habitat instead of protecting it for the vulnerable creatures and plants in our care.
    Unforgivable abuse of our dominant position.

  81. Cathy Robinson says:

    I just want to know where all the people live now that apparently need this new housing? Surely it’s not worth destroying our landscape for and where will all the current wildlife living there go? How would Pickles feel if he popped out for a bit, only to find that upon his return his home just wasn’t there any more?

    • C Cheesman says:

      We will not need a nuclear war, holocaust or Armageddon to destroy the world, for mankind is doing it itself in the name of progress and wealth. Turning what we know as diverse and rich environment into a sterile and hostile place where only few species will be able to scrape some form of existence.
      Oaken Wood and other places like it throughout the world are the start, and it is narrow minded self centred individuals that claim they are doing it for the good of others or progress that are to blame.
      Progress for progress sake is not always good if it means destroying what most of us hold precious in our environment.
      In this country we need to make the government realise that they will not be re-elected if they do not stick to what they say and promise.

  82. Richard Bradbury says:

    Is Oaken Wood evidence that
    You can lead a man to parliament,
    but you can not make him think.

  83. Giles Hill says:

    Another let down from the sell everything off government. Thanks for destroying another piece of beautiful Britain, Pickles.

  84. Howard Sherwood says:

    Dear Eric,

    How the the birdwatcher in you feel when you made this decision?

  85. Jude Bailey says:

    When will politicians realize that these wooded areas are vital to the health of the nation. They are so quick to allow the systematic destruction of our land without us having any say in the matter.I just hope that some of this woodland can be saved. Pickles is an absolute idiot !!!!

  86. Anna says:

    Woops – that should read the ‘fight over planning permission is lost’

  87. Anna says:

    Just because the planning permission is lost doesn’t mean the wood is… There are other ways, peaceful ways, to fight the destruction of ancient woodlands other than through the courts. Good luck to our friends in Kent!

  88. Jono says:

    By the time somebody asks What idiot sanctioned planning permission on Oaken wood, Pickles will be dead and ash just like Jimmy Saville. He will never be brought to book whilst he is alive and the worst of it is he thinks he’s doing a good job!

  89. Joan Lindeman says:

    Words fail me.There are so many examples of our heritage of natural beauty and ancient history being allowed to be trashed for short term gains.

    PLEASE wake up to what you are doing. It is tragic. Irreparable. Joan

  90. Lycan says:

    Pickles, do you understand the sacriledge you are responsible for?
    These woods are irreplaceable.
    I could say so much, but I am too sickened, I just hope you Rot in hell for your sins against nature.

  91. Cat says:

    A few months ago I heard how in Mexico they were destroying the ancient Mayan temples to use the stone to build roads. Doesn’t sound too dissimilar does it?

  92. Andrew Smith says:

    The love of money is the root of all evil. And time and time again, the Conservatives have shown they love only money. From trying to sell off our forests to slaughtering our wildlife, they appear to have declared war on Britain’s natural heritage. These ecocidal maniacs should be put on trial for their crimes against nature.

  93. Andrew Skene says:

    Am not at all surprised,this government lies to us all,all the time about everything! The only thing that they care about is the short term enrichment of the already rich and privileged few and sod the rest of us and our environment,which,if they had their way,would already have been off limits to most of us anyway!People need to wake up to this and bear in mind if Pickles and his fellow lying hypocrites win an outright majority at the next election “we ‘aint seen nothing yet!”
    Make no mistake,this isn’t ignorance,it’s cynical commercial gain over every other consideration every time and those of us who care enough to protest will be depicted as modern day Luddites who want to hold back the UKs’ economy from it’s “recovery” from the mess this rampant and,as yet,unfettered greed has already created.
    Just wait and see the devastation that will be coming to a space near YOU soon if the threatened fracking “bonanza” takes off!
    History repeats endlessly,how many ancient hedgerows where sacrificed on the insatiable altar of Mammon?Thousands of miles of irreplaceable habitat gone forever and still the destruction of our environment continues a pace despite the inane platitudes that all to many seem to swallow in return for the dubious rewards of our modern British way of life. .

  94. Frances Sharman says:

    Again politicians say one thing before an election to get your vote. We will protect the environment and the green belt. They get in and their “friends” – developers , big business,banks et al, carve up the country, buildings and the majority of the general public. We have fracking, a high speed train we don’t want, the building of thousands of houses which no one can afford to buy on green belt land, recession caused by greedy investment bankers and its the general public who have to pay the price in cuts, loss of employment and a lower standard of living, Now they are eroding the free areas of natural beauty where the general public can gain respite and clean air. I have always voted for a main party but now the Greens have my vote.

  95. Derek West says:

    This decision does not suprise me at all,actions like thiis are happening worldwide,we are
    governed by idiots,vote Green and make a statement.

  96. John Montague says:

    As was so correctly stated earlier, when will They ever learn that once something has been sold/concreted over/ ie gone , it can never, ever be replaced? Quite apart from green issues, it is financially crazy. I can only assume that someone is getting a monster backhander!

  97. Abi Deavin says:

    Oh, Mr Pickles!! What a pickle you’re creating and what a legacy you’ll leave. And who will suffer for your ignorance – our children, and their children and all the generations to come. You should be ashamed for being so short-sighted.

  98. Julie Bailey says:

    I would love to charge this government and Eric Pickles with criminal damage as this is sheer vandalism. While we are about it what about the creatures which live in these woods – can we also have the government for animal cruelty for destroying their habitats? If I did something similar to my cat the RSPCA would be at my door. But what really gets my goat is this is the same man who took swift action against the “blight” of a travellers temporary camp in his constituency next to, oh my goodness, the local cricket club!!!!!

  99. Penny stevenson says:

    “Where there is no vision the people perish ”
    This is the usual shortsighted fast buck behaviour that leaves me and countless others in despair. Again the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. The only satisfaction I have is that I never elected this lot. Disgusting Mr Pickles may you be as popular as Mr Beeching.

  100. rache says:

    This decision reveals once again the true identity of the Tories and what they stand for. These people are not leaders, we would choose to follow good leaders. These Tories ‘rule’ by deception, tyranny and power. I’m tired of hearing all the wrong doings of those who are ‘supposed to be serving the people’. This is devastating news, I was in Kent a few weeks back thinking what a beautiful county it is because of its wonderful trees, why do Tories never listen to what the people need and really want. They seem to have no care or concern for nature, wildlife and green issues seem to be at the bottom of the list. I would rather vote for the monster raving looney party, at least they have a conscience!

  101. Sue says:

    This Government said they were going to be the ‘greenest government ever’ and all their actions, so far, have been a complete contradiction. The country doesn’t just belong to the Government and it’s agents, it belongs to all of us and they are voted in to represent our wishes, they seem to forget this once they get into power. If a prospective employee contradicted all the promises they made at a job interview they would be ‘booted out’ pretty quickly, shame we can’t do this with this Government. I am sick of seeing common land being sold off for private profit. Once an ancient woodland is gone it is gone forever, it’s uniqueness can’t be replaced. These people only get into the position of power because we allow them to be. I am not voting for any of the main Government’s next time, in my 60 years on this planet I have seen the pendulum swing back and forwards from one to the other. In my opinion both Governments have always been disappointing.

  102. C L Taylor says:

    It my conviction that enquiries /consultations all a waste of time and money. By the time the public hear of any proposals “The Powers That Be” have already made their decision, the rest is just a smoke screen. IF the public do win. a new proposal will probably follow that was the original intention ,with the hope that not being so extreme it will be accepted with relief.

  103. Ann T says:

    The loss of this precious woodland is a devastating blow, and I have no time for Pickles and decision making based on short term profiteering with total disregard for the future of our environment. BUT I also deplore the apparent need some people have to vent their anger in pointless abuse. It does our cause no favours and plays into the hands of our opponents. Please use rational arguments – there’s no shortage.

  104. Neil H says:

    A short sighted decision by the worst government in my lifetime. Eric ‘the slug’ Pickles is a ****. And that’s being polite. Has he taken the views of ‘the local community’ into account on this at all? Things like ancient woodlands mean nothing whatsoever to these people. They’ll look you in the eye and tell you they’re the “greenest government ever” then prove themselves liars. Let’s not vote for ’em again…

  105. Rwthless says:

    Ancient woodland can’t be replaced. Even newish woodland is mostly a lot older than Mr Pickles. How would he like being killed to make room for a baby?
    Do the people who vote for hung parliaments not get a say?

  106. Paul ewen says:

    Pickles, you Sir are a bigger joke than even the press have regularly made you out to be. The Ragstone need for historic buildings can be supplied with little or no impact on this scale. But the bulk of this facility seems destined for aggregate, considering the alternatives, this is an indefensible reason to lose such an important piece of our woodland heritage.

  107. david allcock says:

    As I remember this ancient woodland has been under threat for years and has finally been sentenced by one of the most cynical governments that I canlived through. There is a bit of the clue in the term ‘ancient woodland’ that indicates that it cannot be replaced easily – it will take a long time – and for what? A bit of short term profit and some more roadstone perhaps.

  108. j.wheeler says:

    Such a sad decision, and one of so many recently. This really is beyond logic and reason, just another example of the bottom line being worshipped by the business world at the expense of any and every thing in its way. I shall continue to plant my small urban garden with native species – maybe this isn’t much, but it is something positive I can do.

  109. SJ Bradburn says:

    Money is the master of our country today and the short term policies being employed will come back to haunt future generations. Oakley Wood is a very sad loss.but it is a loss to the future generations of those who have ruined it as well as everyone else. The money will be spent but the wood in it’s current form can never be replaced. There have been a lot of set backs over time but the important thing is to keep on and there will be successes as well. Keep up the good work Woodland Trust – you are doing a great job for the preservation of our country.

  110. Karen T says:

    Yet another example of big business trampling all over the wishes of the people – with the connivance of those who were elected to rule ‘for the people’. When will we be able to sack those who do not have the public interest at heart?

  111. Mike says:

    I thought that these politicians were elected to represent us!!

  112. sue collins says:

    Love your comment about lunatics Maureen! How depressing is this. This small island will soon become a concrete one as our population increases and stupid Government policies about immigration!! Once ancient woodland is gone it is gone forever. My heart bleeds for the future and how my grandchilden may never experience the joy and wonder of walking in woods such as this because it will all have gone! I am so disillusioned about the state of UK politics and politicians of all parties but especially the Tories who I had hoped cared about our country but as usual money and profit are king.

  113. When will the people in power ever get the picture. Natural habitats are a finite resource. Destroying them in the name of quick profit doesn’t go unnoticed or unchallenged any more. We are not as stupid as we used to be, and we will remember this when it comes round to voting time, because we have learnt how to care.

  114. Conor O'Luby says:

    Funny that the Conservatives show themselves to be anything but concerned with conserving the beauty of the country we live in. The Profit motive and the search for ever more ‘growth’ – though not of our natural resources, clearly – is the cause of this destruction.

  115. Maureen Wilcox says:

    This is a classic example of the lunatics being in charge of the Asylum, politicians making decisions with no real understanding or concern for the longer term impact. We continue to suffer from short termism.

  116. Andy White says:

    Dear Nikki Williams, have we given up then? Is it all over? Your article ‘in memory of the wood’ assumes that it is. Sorry to be critical, but it really ought to be lodged in all our consciousness that we never give up. Our people look to you to set an example. Please, never concede defeat. We have all had moments in our lives when things looked hopeless but we have to keep fighting for what is right. That is what we are for. That is why we are here. We must keep searching for ways through and doing everything in our power, for as long as we draw breath, to promote consciousness and inspire those around us. Never give up. Pickles is not the final word or authority in this matter.

    • Kaye Brennan says:

      Andy, our planning experts advise us that we have no legal redress for this decision even though it is not what anyone wanted to see for this wood except the developers (this inlcudes looking to Europe). That is not to say that we are giving up campaigning for ancient woodland!! – especially knowing we have all of you with us! We will never give up, it’s simply not an option because there are so many threats to woods and trees and ancient woodland is so precious. The example of Oaken Wood must be used to show the planning system does not work when it comes to protecting irreplaceable habitats. What we do next needs to be effective, and there is not one thing that will make a difference, but likely many steps. This is a very long game. So a campaign needs to be properly thought out and planned; otherwise we run the risk of simply making noise without seeing a positive outcome, which of course we don’t want to do, and calling on you for support to no avail, which would be devastating for everyone. See Nikki’s previous replies about our next steps as well. We will come to all of you for your help, it really makes a huge difference to us to know that you will be there.

      • Matt Derrington says:

        Erm, Kaye, with no ill wishes against your organisation, is it not true- you are not a totally independent campaigning body like Avaaz, but a charity and therefore bound by charity laws, which include not advocating any serious action against the government that hands over your huge gift aid contributions?
        Though you may not be able to explicitly agree with the obvious occupy solution, I hope you will have the courage at least NOT to reply to this message in a contradictory, or even a confusing way. No reply will speak clearly.

        • Occupying Oaken Wood could be a very effective way to show strength of feeling. Lots of people have expressed their anger and feelings of impotency in this blog – is it now time to act – actions speak louder than words.

        • Kaye Brennan says:

          Thanks for your comment Matt. I’m happy to reply of course, as you are mistaken: being a charity does not stop us from campaigning against government, we do so in order to achieve our aims and we’re not afraid to campaign! Whether the government might stop funds like the Gift Aid scheme forms no part of our decision-making when we consider what course of action will be most effective.
          PS: Charity Law does not prevent a charity from undertaking direct action. Obviously there is enormous strength of feeling about this case. The Trust’s position is that we do not take part in or advocate illegal activity or direct action. Please take care out there.

          • Matt Derrington says:

            Hi Kaye. I’m glad your position is stronger than I thought. I look forward to hearing about your peaceful and well organised picketing of the site.

  117. Marc Dury says:

    Mr Pickles might just go down in history, if history bothers at all, as the man who pickled the Conservative party through the most thoughtless, shortsighted and unpopular decision yet.

  118. Liz Farnworth says:

    Indeed, what have you done Mr Pickles? How shortsighted and ignorant you are. I hope some day in the not too distant you get your wake up call, it cannot come soon enough in my estimation.

  119. Leonard Griffin says:

    Well said, Christine and Andrew. how about replacing the Houses of Parliament with a relocated woodland?

  120. Andrew Smith says:

    The clue is in the name: CON-servatives. And they have certainly conned the British people. If they stay in power much longer, the only tree left in Britain will be their party logo.

  121. Selling off England and the UK if they can…. money ….fracking no trees for the next generation!!
    Don’t vote them in again.

  122. Joanne Scannell says:

    Shame on you Mr Pickles and your government. You’ve lied to us and betrayed us.

  123. Lesley Blunden says:

    Prevention is always better than cure!! So how many years will it take for the powers to be to realise they have made a grave mistake and and then want to spend a fortune trying to rectify what has been done. We see it all the time. I wonder what will be left for our children and grandchildren. Money, money, money, grab, grab, grab. Sickening!!! We are supposed to share this beautiful world not sabotage it. Man is so arrogant, believing this world is just for them to use and abuse – never thinking of the consequences for the rest of life on this planet. Thank goodness there are also good people who do care.

  124. sarah blackmore says:

    All of the creatures have lost their homes now =( why do these STUPID people think the world belongs to the human race, to destroy at their leisure. it is very sad.

  125. Keith says:

    I wont forget when it comes to the ballot box. I want a country where my children can enjoy the pleasure of walking in ancient woodlands.

  126. adrienne kurten says:

    I am disgusted, and maybe when people think of Tory government they will never vote for them again!

  127. This Government doesn’t give any weight at all to the countryside, or the wildlife within it. They would repeal the Fox hunting law if they could. Badger culling is going ahead, despite the arguements against whether it will be effective. They didn’t do much on the Marine Reserves around our coast. They have relaxed the planning regulations.
    How can you trust a Government whose leader stalks and shoots deer just for his own sick gratification. It’s no wonder he and his cronies have no compassion for the countryside, because the only interest they have for it is to shoot or hunt and kill the creatures in it.

    • Andy White says:

      I agree, the fact is the government, every government, has, as its first priority, the maintainance of its own power base. It does not need you and me for that.

      The fact that they can be elected out doesn’t bother them in the slightest because its their money that runs things and not their office. Besides, an eternal game of political musical chairs suits them perfectly. No-one has to take responsibility because everything was the fault of the last bunch in office which we can’t tidy up and are far too busy with our own nefarious policies and broken electoral promises to be bothered with anyway.

      THE GOVERNMENT RELIES ON OUR FURY BEING POURED INTO VOTING THEM OUT OF OFFICE IN 2015. It maintains social control. ‘Don’t do anything now, just use the power of your ballot in a few years time’.!! This creates an illusion of people power and keeps us quiet. We are so fed with how evolved our political system is we don’t question it even when it pulls stunts like this. The fantasy that we can intervene on behalf of Nature by getting rid of the government is like saying we are being politicaly potent by choosing to be punched by the left hand of Corporate Greed rather than the right.

      It will be too late for Oaken Wood in 2015. We cannot rely on our representatives. The notion that they represent us is a vain hope that somehow just won’t lie down and die even when we are betrayed so utterly. How gullible are we ??? OCCUPY THE WOOD.

  128. Elizabeth Chapman says:

    Oh why I am I not surprised when comes to anything this out of touch goverment does…… the greenest goverment to date!!!! What a joke. Mr Pickles you have yet again proved what a short sighted goverment you are and t looking out for big business and at the expense of our natural environment. You will one day wake up to the fact that you made one bad decision here and future generations will not thank you and I sincerely hope you do not have grandchildren, as they will not thank you either. Ancient woodlands just do not spring up over night it takes centuries and once gone it has gone for ever!!!! This not your finest hour Mr Pickles and heres to a future of a concrete jungle. Here we go again another coaltion mess…… out of touch all over you!!! I have lost all faith and respect in our political elite. Leave our beautiful countryside alone before it is to late!!!!

  129. john cole says:

    so much for tory localism!

  130. Elizabeth Chapman says:

    Well Mr Pickles I sincertely hope one day you will wake up and regret your decision and how you signed the death warrent of a very ancient woodland, but of course you will not, as you seem hold no regard for our natural landscape. I sincerely hope you have no grandchildren, as they will not thank you when they inherit a concrete jungle thanks to their short sighted grandfather.
    Oh all you people out there who worry about us tree hugging people who worry about the countryside, well I am glad we do, because if some people got their way we would have no countryside and I do not live in the city, but in the countryside. I also appreciate people work in the countryside, but once a woodland has gone it has gone. It takes centuries to create an broadleaf woodland.
    Seems that that Mr Pickles has made his mind up I remember hearing somewhere this was are Greenest Goverment to date……. empty words like everything else they have promised to do.

  131. Totally soulless, I’ve heard the Cree proverb before, sad but true.

  132. Caspian says:

    The bottom line is politicians are only concerned with economic benefits, which they perceive will promote a sense of well being by striving for a more affluent society. This is the usual short term policies administered by the transient nature of our political system, with little or no thought to the long term health and well being of society. The natural environment has been shown in studies to improve the quality of life for people, whether in urban or rural locations, this does not appear to be recognised by the powers that be ! By systematically removing our richest and most diverse habitats i.e. ancient woodlands, we place in danger certain flora and fauna which are closely associated with these habitats such as: “Herb paris” which requires mature woodland with its accustomed low light and undisturbed soils which provide the preferable conditions for rare woodland plants. The stag beetle is an example of fauna which lays its young in the dead wood of veteran trees, thus relying on climax woodland which exhibit trees of all ages and condition. There are many more examples of wildlife which exploit the specific ecological niche provided by ancient woodlands. These habitats are already considered island habitats, and as such require positive intervention such as the introduction of wildlife corridors, to safeguard and facilitate the long term success of our ancient woodland species, rather than the decimation of these ecologically rich habitats, in favour of the short term monetary gain of a quarry !!

  133. Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can not eat money ~ 19th Century Cree Indian

  134. Diana Winsor says:

    I worry about all these comments. I have always lived in the countryside but I am aware that there is a lot of it, and that people have to live and work in it. The percentage of Oaken Woods to be used for quarrying is I believe 14 per cent, not the entire wood. According to the Report from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment much less than 7 per cent of England is “built on”, or urban. You only have to drive across England, as I have been doing recently, to be aware of that. I would rather try and change some farming practices – encourage, perhaps financially, farmers to leave headlands round arable field, to leave harvest fields unploughed through the winter, to avoid lapwings’ and other ground nesting birds’ nests when cutting hay or silage. I would rather we thought of meadows rather than lawns; that we stopped seeing every such planning decision as implying some sort of “bureaurocratic”, “political” or other malevolent motive. Please let’s keep some perspective and realise that however crowded we may think our island is, actually it isn’t.

    • Paul Cherrett says:

      …there again, the exploitation of raw emotions over Oaken might just help shake a few pennies from pockets to help the WT purchase Fingle Woods perhaps?

    • Elizabeth Chapman says:

      Much as hear what you are saying Diane an ancient woodland is just as important as any other countryside matters and if only 14 per cent of this woodland is going be destroyed that is still a step to far. 14 per cent today……. 100 per cent tomorrow!! I and many others do not see every planning decision, as “bureaurocratic”,” political” or “malevolent” motive and I we are all thinking with some perspective, but there are planning decisions and then there is short sighteness and this is the latter. Future generations will not thank us. Even though there is plenty of countryside at the moment…. tomorrow may be a different story if we carry on like this.

    • Barbara Dye says:

      I can’t agree with you Diane. I can’t see why it has to be either woods or farming practices, and, anyway, I thought that the stewardship scheme existed to encourage the sort of thing you are asking for. Personally, I don’t see every planning decision as bureaucratic, political or malevolent (some can be very constructive and many planners are as interested in conservation as we are). However, I certainly think this one is all three.

    • Andy White says:

      14% today. 14% tomorrow. How else did we get down to 2% of ancient woodland? Pickles is counting on folk like you Diana. Let’s be reasonable now, its only 14%

    • Jacquie Cox says:

      Diana, perhaps you don’t really understand why woodland, particularly ancient woodland, is so important in our countryside? Let me lay it out for you …

      Ancient woodland sites in England have been continuously under wood since at least 1600 AD. That in itself is a good reason for saving them. These woods have existed for hundreds of years. Some of the individual ancient and veteran trees we have in this country have been around even longer. They have historical value in our landscapes. By virtue of the fact that they are so old, and relatively undisturbed, they contain a seed bank in the soil profile from which ancient species can regenerate if we allow them to. Many are remnants of our great forests and wild-woods that existed before we felled an entire countryside to fuel colonialism and the industrial revolution. Many are native woods with species that grew naturally on these islands since the last ice age.

      They are some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems, containing more of our protected species than any other habitat. They are important for wildlife that in turn affect every other plant/animal/insect in the food chain. Woodlands provide ecosystem services that most people don’t even know about like helping to prevent flooding and soil erosion, absorbing CO2 and mitigating climate change, improving air quality, they create places for recreation and relaxation which helps us with physical and mental health issues saving the NHS millions every year, they are places of learning, they provide jobs, raw materials, fuel, they bring tourists in their droves.

      You may want to live in a country that has nothing but rolling ploughed fields as far as the eye can see, or concreted over, but I couldn’t think of anything worse. The UK is one of the least forested places in Europe with only 12% under woodland cover, and we need to protect every last twig. Even if only part of Oaken was felled the damage would be complete.

      These are systems that have their own micro-climate, hosting species that find it very difficult if not impossible to relocate, recolonise or migrate. If you know anything about succession in a landscape you’ll know that felling parts and allowing the light in will cause other species to take over, often invasive species, fundamentally changing the finely balanced ecosystem. Pollution from the works will create other problems. Blasting and other noise will drive away shy wildlife and disturb their breeding. This is a landscape feature that cannot be recreated. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Lets not forget that other woods existed on that adjoining sites before the quarrying began, so large chunks of wood have already been lost. If you look at the planning history you’ll see that this is the umpteenth application for this site. And it won’t end here, they will strip every last tree. And for what?

      • Karin says:

        What a remarkably intelligent response. Well done Jacquie, it is tragic that those who should be listening appear not to be doing so.

  135. Karen says:

    Shameful decision Mr Pickles, what happened to preserving England’s green and pleasant land? I’d love to know who has been paid/promised what for this decision, once destroyed ths woodland and its biodiversity will be lost forever, and for what? Something that can be obtained elsewhere no doubt without destroying our landscape! Why are we all so apathetic (myself included) when it comes to saying enough is enough to these out of touch dinosaurs who promise the earth during election campaigns and deliver absolutely nothing and forget all the promises made when elected. You have to live with yourself in years to come Mr Pickles when your grandchildren never get to experience the beauty and tranquility of our great woods because of decisions you have made. Sleep well.

  136. Helen says:

    Totally agree with all the above comments, all politicians lack one very important thing and that is good old common sense!! if they had any the country would be in a much better position, they would then be able to make decisions that they can stick too!!!! Our country could be abetter place for our children to grow in, they should be able to enjoy the green spaces and the woodlands like we have been able to in our younger years.

  137. Deirdre says:

    This government is an environmental disaster. Soooooo disappointing after all the pre-election green promises. The warning signs were there when they tried to sell off the forests. Now they’re running rampant over the green and pleasant land by way of the planning rules. Politicians are all the same, no concern for the environment; look at the locust years of conifer plantations.

  138. paul says:

    I’m afraid that like me, you are all wasting your breath. Politicians sit at Parliament generally completely disconnected from the real world, Most are Economics/History/Philosophy graduates, just what the country needs. Most wouldn’t be trusted in a room with a five pound note. The Politicians inability to make any decision that is not for the short term is Legendary after all, with all that education which seems to let them down so badly when dealing with expenses or understanding right from wrong it seems only correct and proper that they screw up everything else as they blunder on through their inept lives. Private Eye should be compulsory reading prior to any general election just to see what they’re trying to cover up.
    Anyway a sad day

  139. Caroline Smith says:

    What can anyone say to this bureaucratic greed why do we choose and appoint these people to represent us when they dont listen !

  140. Well, as they say ‘when its gone its gone’ What a sad day…wonder what people will think of this generation in years to come and how we will be judged for this sort of decision!

  141. Megan says:

    How could you do this? Your destroying animals homes and lives, not to mention the thousands of children who now won’t build a den, collect sticks, have a teddy bears picnic etc. All because you let this happen. Its not your future that’s affected by the decision.

  142. Richard Ayres says:

    NEVER TRUST A POLITITIAN AND ESPECIALLY A TORY POLITITION. Nothing but lies and excuses since they were elected

  143. Mo says:

    How do these people sleep at night after allowing such destruction

  144. Karen says:

    I am appalled to think that this person has allowed this. Ancient woodland can never be replaced; it seems that this government is determined to do what it wants Hs2 is another example of ancient woodlands and natural chalk springs being destroyed for ever. I disgusted with this government liars and cheets.

  145. M. Field says:

    Why have so many local and national voices been ignored? Why does irreplaceable ancient woodland have to be touched when there are alternatives? I appeal to David Cameron to be strong and act in the interests of all of us, as well as in the interest of future generations, and reverse the decision of the ill-advised Mr Pickles, whose action is no better than that of a vandal. Surely it is self-evident that all these woodlands are precious and simply should not be touched. How can we trust a weak government that cannot stand firm on such important matters, affecting us all whether we are ‘green’ or not.

  146. Pete says:

    Pickles continues to demonstrate he is a buffoon.. nothing more to say

  147. Paul Cherrett says:

    Mr Pickles, career politician living miles away, failing to walk the talk: The Localism Act 2011 introduced new powers for people to make neighbourhood plans and neighbourhood planning orders, with reduced interference from central government. These new powers are in addition to existing opportunities for community involvement, which are already part of the planning system.

  148. Tricia Callow says:

    If this is the GREENEST GOVERNMENT EVER, then pigs not only fly but are blue and yellow striped. Maybe that’s it: are Mr Pickles, Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and friends all colourblind, rather than bare-faced liars?

  149. So called governments need to be separated from environmental decision making. It will never be important enough to them, and it is too important for it to be up to them. We need a permanent ecological decision-making panel far beyond politics. Have we not destroyed enough? Are we committed to total obliteration? This is such an instant world now, but these things take time. There is a balance between population and environment, which has tipped too far, and we are all about to fall off. Very sad about the woods, but not surprised. Pointless trying to fight when no-one in power is intelligent enough to care.

  150. Stephen Artus says:

    An extremely short sighted decision made in the interests of current economic growth. The economy will recover anyway over time. You cannot replace ancient woodland once it has been destroyed. What will our descendants remember us for I wonder.

  151. Vic Williams says:

    Once again politicians have demonstrated why they are so unpopular and why so many people think it is a waste of time to turn out at elections and vote. Why should so many people who, presumably were acquainted with how the vast majority of citizens think and what they feel, completely forget all that when elected to Parliament such that one of the first policies put forward by this Government was to sell off our forests. The totally predictable storm of protest which followed led to an apparent change of heart but, as so often is the case, appearances are misleading and the same agenda appears later on in another guise. These philistines know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Pickles is only one of many such and there will be more of the same to come, I fear. Is David Cameron made of different stuff and will he intervene to stop another stupid and ignorant decision by one of his ministers (if it is not too late already)? We will see!

  152. Jay Stevens says:

    I bet if Mr Pickles lived near these woodlands he would be protesting but again as long as its not on their doorstep they couldn’t care less. Bet those “in power” make sure their lives aren’t upset and their nearby ancient woodlands aren’t disturbed. Same with airport extensions and motorways, as long as it doesn’t disturb them eh.

  153. Elizabeth Anne says:

    So sad and so wrong again Prince Charles where were you.
    Everybody sign the petition that is shown by Frances Taylor

  154. claire says:

    Mr Pickles, you seem to have become so removed from the natural world that you have forgotten its intrinsic value. You wouldn’t destroy St.Paul’s cathedral to make way for quarrying building a modern concrete cathedral nearby to compensate.
    Ancient woodlands are equally part of our beautiful heritage and are equally valued by people except they add not only beauty to the landscape but are also an essential part of the ecosystem.

  155. David says:

    This is disgusting. I’m 27 and I believe we should protect our forest land. If not for obvious reasons, so that that we have our peaceful areas where wildlife can flourish, We owe it to the children of the future to maintain these beautiful forests. These forests have been here for 1000s of years what right have we to destroy them. These people responsible should stop listening to business propositions and start listening to what really matters.

  156. Enid says:

    Although I do not live any where near Oaken Wood the news that it will be destroyed saddens me. We are told almost on a daily basis about global warming, green environmental issues , wildlife habitat etc;. I am not an highly educated person and yet those people with more education than myself seem to think it is O.K. to destroy ages old woodlands for the sake of what ?, I cannot comprehend the reason behind the decision to destroy beautiful nature for something man-made and ugly..The decision to destroy a woodland will prove a regrettable one in the long run.

  157. geoffrey moore says:

    Chipping away at one of this country’s most valuable assets, not just for its residents, but for our hugely valuable tourist industry is surely very short sighted. The government says our economy is temporarily in dire straits so gradually taking short term and desperate decisions to improve its performance by permanently damaging the environment constitutes being ‘in a Pickle’.

  158. Elaine says:

    Mr Pickles – time for you to go! I just despair at your latest decision. One in a long and growing list of unbelievably despicable decisions by a government who have completely lost their plot – indeed if they ever had one. Once wonderful ancient woodland is destroyed it is gone forever, together with the numerous site specific habitats, and flora and fauna. It’s about time this government realised the enormity of the damage their ‘environmental’ approach will have on the beautiful, irreplaceable British countryside. Shame on you all.

  159. R M Barnard says:

    A shocking decision but unsurprising decision for this government who continue to fail to see any relevance in anything that doesn’t last longer than a period in parliament. The only way people like this will ever understand is when they are voted out. Lets hope memories are longer than the time it takes to destroy an ancient woodland!!

  160. Emma Goodson says:

    I am disgusted at this government, they rail-road over everythng that is good about this country, they have money and money talks, its about time the bankers repaid their debts to the country by buying up some of the ancient woodland that the government keep giving away in the name of getting the deficit down and increasing employment ( which they have created , by the way) but they won’t admit to it because they won’t get of their £60,000 a year backsides to listen to the people and what they people want. We will never get the deficit down whilst they keep wasting our money and taking away everything that people from other countries actually come here to visit.

  161. Raymond Dye says:

    This is a measure of how low this government has fallen, that this egregrious person is holding office. I wonder what more appalling decisions he and his “coalition” colleagues will make before they are finally voted out of office. Heaven help the environment.

  162. Frances Taylor says:

    You can still help save Oaken Wood!! There is an online petition which needs just 500 signatures in order for the case to be taken to Europe, with a last ditch attempt at having the case overruled and hopefully rescuing this ancient woodland. If you haven’t done so already, please sign here:
    Many thanks

  163. Lillian Winter says:

    Ancient woodlands are precious, so many have been destroyed. We should be making sure that those remaining are protected. Pickles decision demonstrates the priorities of this government, which cares little for our natural heritage. I trust that enough of us will prevent this happening.

  164. Clare Johnson says:

    Mr Pickles, you are an idiot. Your decision actually makes me cry. You obviously are unlucky enough to have no children or loved ones or you would not be able to do this to a place as special and significant as an ancient woodland. I pity you for the lack of beauty, poetry and perspective in your life. You have no right to take away a piece of our shared natural heritage. Shame on you.

  165. Bob Davenport says:

    Will those in power ever appreciate or understand what they destroy with the stroke of a pen? I think they are weak and cowardly people who put a pound note as higher importance than the evolution, understanding and protection of nature. Probably sell their mother if they could get away with it. In the end we will all pay the ultimate price. But in a million years i’m sure life will survive but not as we know it. Every wood , forest, ocean polluted will just speed up the end. and bring about the beginning.
    Who once said: Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.
    So, in 500 years they will probably have almost erased us and gone to Mars. Life will just pick up The pieces and move on, another 20,000 years their will probably be a beautiful forest again.

  166. Virginia says:

    Shame on Eric Pickles and all government bodies that speak words, but do not follow through with actions. It would appear that all governments are interested in business interests and not the interest of the people or the land we live on and in.
    Shame on them all.

  167. Liz OS says:

    “My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
    so much has been destroyed
    I have to cast my lot with those
    who age after age, perversely,
    with no extraordinary power,
    reconstitute the world.”
    ― Adrienne Rich

  168. M. Ford says:

    I’m embarrassed that Eric is my local MP. How much more damage does he and the Tories have to do before people will stop voting for them? I’m so disgusted that I don’t even know what else to say. Shame on you Eric Pickles!

    • Nigel Bennett. says:

      I share your embarrassment even though I have never supported him. And I walk down a road near my home with my dog and there is hardly a front garden not concreted over, and he seems to want to encourage more.

  169. Peter Rennie says:

    Did we really expect anything else from “the greenest government ever?” Policy changes have ensured that business interests will outweigh conservation. There will be many more campaigns to come!

  170. Diana Jones says:

    Once again the Party of privilege, prejudice and pomposity takes deliberate steps to destroy the heritage of us all. Frankly, one tree is worth a thousand politicians; nor do toothless Local Government officials appear to care for the people they represent. A disgrace all round.

  171. Dave Evans says:

    Just because Pickles gave it the go ahead, I assume protesting will continue? count me in, if any one can put me in touch with a local group, I’m a trained tree surgeon and will happily camp in the tree tops with others to prevent them starting the destruction. Just because a politician gives it the go ahead, does not mean we should give in, his is where the fight should really start.
    Please reply to this with details of any local protest groups, I’m happy to do what it takes to change the governments minds.
    Woodlands are my sanctity, the closest I get to religion, to me this is like destroying my spiritual home, my church.

    • Matt Derrington says:

      At last- a real, practical answer. Did you know you might now be able to camp in that canopy in both comfort and style? There is a thing called a Tentsile Stingray which could help you stay longer in the trees between shifts and capture media attention far better than a simple bivouac. They’re not cheap, but who knows? Perhaps the company would like to earn its place in eternal glory by donating some to this cause.

      • Andy White says:

        I like you Matt , your picketting comment was a humdinger….notice there was no option to reply?… big brudda alover de place mon. Dave, I’ll see you there…

        • Matt Derrington says:

          I like your messages too Andy. I’ve had to try hard on several occasions not to cheer. I didn’t want to worry people by sounding like a heckler in a rabble.
          I believe it is right in general to try to be careful with language. However if a dire situation requires robust language, that necessarily means you don’t have the luxury of being terrified into silence, because of some mental image of yourself in a dictator’s moustache and uniform (no offence to decent people with both moustaches and uniforms!).
          As those dictators have proved, over and over again, the true far end of the scale- a whole country of overly polite people being run roughshod over AND laughed at by tiny minorities of criminals, is most certainly not acceptable.
          Robust language when it’s desperately needed, and robust action when it’s desperately needed. Politeness and restraint- admirable rules for normal circumstances. And in case anyone is still under the illusion this is just another tragic, but almost humdrum loss of some tiny bit of woodland, please think again. The wood is not a wood alone. It is one of the so-say most valuable kinds. Of which there is an even tinier remaining portion. Which we are all supposed to have agreed to try to protect more- not less. And this decision is the 1st to discard that worth and that resolve utterly. Which makes it a precedent. And a truly dangerous one.

  172. Marc Careswell says:

    The previous government was intent on destroying this nation from outside in with their open door policy, and now this feckless government is determined to destroy from inside out. How would Mr Pickles feel if a beautiful ancient woodland near his country seat was destroyed to make way for industry, or the useless HS2? I doubt very much that he would sit back and let it happen. If I ever meet him, I will ask him for a letter of explanation and apology to my children, explaining why Britain’s woodland has not been preserved for their generation. This government are annoying frackers.

    • Jacquie Cox says:

      And on the subject of fracking … did anyone notice that a major shareholder in Cuadrilla is a cross-bencher in the House of Lords, a man apparently awarded the first Responsible Capitalism Award. Is it any wonder Dave and Gideon came out in favour of fracking when one of their cronies is the director of the company that is going to frack us all to hell? Individuals in government have a vested interest in destroying our environment – common sense and science are no antidote to greed.

  173. Jon Alexander says:

    It’s time people in power started listening to those who put them there. This vandalism must be stopped and this man brought to his senses.

  174. Roger Clooney says:

    the people of Kent should be asking Gallagher & Co “how can they justify the destruction of such an important county site when they have already made so much money out of the county”. Local government should be considering blacklisting such an insensitive operator.

  175. Dave Evans says:

    Just because Pickles the pie eater gave it the go ahead, I assume protesting will continue, count me in, if any one can put me in touch with a local group, I’m a trained tree surgeon and will happily camp in the tree tops with others to prevent them starting the destruction. Just because a politician gives it the go ahead, does not mean we should give in, his is where the fight should really start.
    Please reply to this with details of any local protest groups, I’m happy to do what it takes to change the governments minds.
    Woodlands are my sanctity, the closest I get to religion, to me this is like destroying my spiritual home, my church.

  176. James Wilson says:

    Any person or Government who cannot understand the long term effects of consistently removing our woodlands, no matter how intelligent they may be, have no WISDOM.

  177. Linda O'connor says:

    what a stupid stupid man does he not have any children or grandchildren if this is what we have running our country god help us all.

  178. Dave Evans says:

    I thought we lived in a democracy? so why is the government constantly making decisions that the majority do not agree with. A democracy is not a system of doing what the people want unless you know better than the public, if government really believe that public opinion is incorrect it is there job to persuade us other wise and until they do no action against popular majority should be taken. I would hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I have grave concerns about our government and more concern over how we let them get away with it. All parties are controlled by the backs who are controlled by an elite few, we need complete political reform.

  179. Mike Cavanagh says:

    You would think that the power behind the campaign that stopped the Forestry Commission sell off would make any govenment realise there is a huge part of the population who really value our woodlands, public or private. It is sad that our government seems to listen when there is a massive national outcry, but not carry that through to all levels of threats to our woods. Should it always need a big media campaign to make them act for the majority. A shameful decision.

  180. Shirley Broughton says:

    A totally, totally, shameful decision.

  181. Jeremy May says:

    Mr Pickles, you are an absolute disgrace. Shame on you for betraying Oaken Wood! How dare you sacrifice this precious natural resource for no justifiable reason to scumbag developers!

  182. Bob says:

    Shame on the lib-dem conservative government! A massive loss not only for the local people, but for all of the county and the country as a whole. What is the most damaging thing? The fact that we can’t legitimately stand in front of other countries and say “you should conserve your forests, as we all rely on them and they belong to everyone, now and in the future”.

    An utterly pathetic but predictable path taken by the conservatives who know those who have money can do what they want, and everyone else can suffer.

  183. Geoff says:

    Did anybody notice the ‘Green’ Party kicking up an almighty fuss over all this business? No, me neither. The silence from them was deafening.

    • Dave Evans says:

      to be fair, we shouldn’t need them too, the government should have the countries interests at heart not their own bank accounts. To blame the green party dilutes the argument against the Government. To blame the green party, or make any comment on their lack of ‘fuss’ is like blaming a lollipop lady for not stopping a drunk driver hitting someone

      • Ella-Jo Mehta says:

        Caroline Lucas is the only Green MP and she is doing her damnedest on a wide range of issues. The mainstream media are biased away from her and genuine green concerns because they are not independent. Industry CEOs get column inches because they pay for them (Cuadrilla’s Francis Egan wrote – or had someone write, probably – a slick piece in last week’s Mail on Sunday covering most of a page). Debate is constantly being silenced on issues like this and (equally disturbing and potentially vastly more directly dangerous) unconventional gas exploration and drilling techniques, fracking being the best known of these right now. In passing, I just heard about an industry hob-nob day later this year where for £350 (if you’re invited) you can hear a bunch of eminent speakers talking about how to make fracking go down well with the public. When the organisers were asked whether any debate on the environmental concerns would be included, they refused to reply. Planning decisions such as Oaken Wood may be just the run-up…

  184. Barry Sapsford says:

    If you think you can just shift an ancient woodland to another location Mr Pickles, you are a buffoon.

  185. Gill Price says:

    Will we one day be going to an English Woodland Theme Park, Perhaps an area with viewing gallery showing fields, hills woods and a little train taking folk around..but they will never be able to recreate the wonderful sounds or the sense of peace, I wonder why people do not see what is around them or do they like living in concrete land.

  186. Malcolm Walsh says:

    This decision justs goes to show that the present Government has not really the slightest real interest in caring for the natural environment but is only interested in developing profits for their business friends. They ought to hang their heads in shame. Remember the song “they have taken away all the trees and put them in a tree museum, now we have to pay half a dollar to see ’em”. Green government? Don’t make me laugh! Perhaps they might turn St. James’ park into a
    monster car park and block of flats for the MPs next. I don’t think so because that is too near home!

  187. Angela Day says:

    When you take away an ancient wood – you destroy our heritage our culture (yes the English do have one!) and our right to live in a beautiful country which is not like any other on earth. The short sightedness of people like Eric Pickles beggars belief and there is absolutely no excuse for it. All Eric Pickles and people who make these decisions so lightly is money – they don’t care about the people who use these woods, they don’t care about the environment and they certainly
    don’t care about the wildlife that use these areas that are becoming more and more rare. Once
    it’s gone an ancient wood cannot be brought back and our history has gone right along with it.

  188. Peter James says:

    Shame that I am not one of Mr. Pickles’ constituents. I could help vote him out.

    • Nigel Bennett. says:

      it’ll need an awful lot of us to do that, Peter! His majority is over 13,000. I’ve tried ever since he became our candidate, but the nearest we got was when Martin Bell stood against him as an Independent. He’s got the letters MP after his name for as long as he wants them, alas!

  189. Vivien Collinge says:

    What a shame about this ancient woodland. They cannot be replaced once they are gone. We should hang on to the ones we have left and not destroy them.

  190. C J Rigby says:

    Eric Pickles will be remembered – something politicians are always keen on, their place in history. He will be remembered as the cynical, short-sighted idiot who cares nothing for the future of our country and the future lives of our children and grandchildren. Dramatic? I don’t think so. the frightening thing is, that protection that many people have persistently and patiently fought for, is now shown to be paper thin.

  191. Sophie says:

    All this destruction – destruction of our natural environment, destruction of our welfare system so caringley put in place by David Lloyd George, destruction of our NHS. Where and when will it end. All brought about by a government NOT voted in democratically. When will these self serving monsters realise that we need our ancient woodland. They might not think it. Many people think we only need as an aesthetic pleasing symbol of British countryside, but we need it as a habitat for many of the animals and insects that keep our plant life going.Without a lot of our insects we won’t have polination and that means NO FOOD. Think people think. PLEASE PLEASE People and POLITICIANS see the wider picture. Stop blaming immigrants and the poor and sick for this. It is the greed of a few that is the main reason we are losing our precious countryside, not those poor souls trapped in the inner city slums. Stop passing the buck and start showing we don’t want these self serving monsters to destroy us. Start writing to your MP’s, Stop voting for them. How about a show of no confidence. The more we stand up, the more they will have to listen. Your MP is meant to work for you!! Start making them do some of the work they are paid vast sums for.

    • Geoff says:

      It’s the English, not British, countryside that is being signed away by that philistine thug Pickles. Fortunately for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, planning and the environment are devolved matters, so Wastemonster only has England (and Cornwall) at its mercy.

  192. Mike Campbell says:

    I can’t think of anything to add to the many opinions already expressed here; all spoken from the heart.

    This is just so sad; for Oaken Wood, for the many who campaigned against its destruction, and most of all (perhaps) for the future.

  193. Nessa says:

    Appalling news and so much for the ‘greenest government ever’ and ‘localism’, both clearly a farce designed to pull the wool over our eyes and make us feel that we are have some democratic control. Let us not forget that whatever we think of Pickles, he is an appointee of this Coalition government and essentially the Conservatives. Whatever action we can take through whatever means, then let us try, but the key thing must be to change governments. I’d like to think that if enough people voted Green then a Coalition with another party might result and decisions like this would not be made.

  194. The Law is the Law and nobody is ubove the Law except the polititions who makes them. Now it is about time that the people made the Laws instead of corrupt polititions voting on behalf of their own financial interest.

  195. Major David Llewelyn Davies says:

    I do not wish to personalise this awful decision, but Mr. Pickles started out in 2010 as the champion of local people, but recently, and not only with regard to this appalling decision, I believe he is now ‘lost’. Lost in the corridors of Whitehall. Lost from the reality of life away from Parliament. Lost mentally and lost morally. Who knows what malevolent powers have moved against him in the last eighteen months or so. Who knows what ‘pressure’ his civil servants have subjected him to. Mr. Pickles is lost – lost to the majority of public approval. He is lost to all but vested interests and the purveyors of ‘good ideas’. Lost to the likes of the supporters of wind-farms and the sovereign of stupidity: HS2. It is unlikely that he will lose his exceptionally ‘safe’ seat, but who knows? I am distraught, dismayed and disgusted by this craven and utterly stupid decision – a decision worthy of the most appalling Labour minister being fuelled by envy, spite and malice, the corner-stones of Labour. Well done Mr. Pickles, hard to emulate Labour’s most dreadful judgements, but you have!

    • Geoff says:

      The entire ruling class is made up of Labour clones these days, so it’s no surprise that Pickles is acting as despicably as Labour themselves.

  196. Mandy Nichols says:

    A terrible decision! These people have no consciences – only bank balances to think of!

    I’m sure these people won’t be happy until we have paved the whole of this beautiful country.

    The law of karma means that they will at some point get payback for their destructive profiteering.

    How do they sleep at night?

  197. Martin Durrett says:

    Lie 1: Job creation? That old chestnut – no jobs will be created, just transferred from somewhere else.

    Lie 2: Conservation? Conserving jobs for the boys and wealth for donors to the party. Destroy everything else when it suits.

    Lie 3: Pickles is responsibly doing his job as Secretary of State for Local Community – Rubbish, he has totally ignored the local community and sided with land rapists for short term “gain” at the expense of an immediate and forever loss. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

    Where will they obtain the trees for replanting? On usual form, it will be with trees from abroad with bugs and blight – or am I being cynical?

    Woodland Trust have been a bastion in restoring and creating woodlands. But even they cannot replace ancient woodland. It is a sad shame that we need organisations such as Woodland Trust, but I am so glad we do when people like Pickles are in destruction mode

  198. Susie Reynolds says:

    Sometime in the not-too-distant future people are not going have any real quality of life. Yes they may well have jobs, money, houses, possessions and the like but when it really comes down to it none of these things contribute to our emotional and physical wellbeing like those things that, Mr. Pickles, you and your government seem hell-bent on destroying. Oaken Wood really is something that makes life worth living: it enables people to connect with nature, to take time out of their busy lives to see sights and hear sounds that aren’t part of their everyday working world, to breathe in clean air and have their souls and senses soothed by things they wouldn’t ordinarily encounter, like the tapping of a busy woodpecker and the smell of a carpet of bluebells, dripping with early morning dew.

    Yet again our heritage, OUR woodland, is being sacrificed for short-termism: anything the government can do to please those who worship currency and its related evils will be done, for ever and ever, amen, regardless of what we, the common citizens, think or say. If you think you can re-create ancient woodland then you, sir, and your ‘greenest government ever’ are deluded in the least.

    It’s not too late to reverse this decision…but it soon will be. Come on Mr. Pickles – listen to the people crying out to have the things that really matter to them preserved. Without places like Oaken Wood peoples’ lives in the future are going to be of a very poor quality indeed, not to mention the lives of those creatures you seem happy to displace/condemn to die in the near future by making this appalling judgement. I am dismayed and feel very let down by you and your government as it stands. This really is very depressing and heartbreaking.

  199. john ho says:

    This not democracy!
    But an illusion….
    Time for the power to claimed back
    …a more real democracy

  200. Jo Wilding says:

    Completely outrageous decision but sadly not a surprising one. Eric Pickles has recently ridden rough-shod over the wishes of the people of Shottery and Stratford-upon-Avon in allowing 800 houses to be built in Shottery close to Anne Hathaway’s cottage the home of Shakespeare’s wife. The decision although taken to appeal has been ratified by the High Court. Shottery is (at the moment) a small charming village on the outskirts of Stratford and the cottage and the other Shakespeare houses are of world class importance.

  201. Helen says:

    This news is devastating and I can’t believe a government would make such an irreparable decision. If only our future generations could have more of a voice! It’s because of events such as these that have changed my mind about having children – this planet will be in no fit state for them to be proud of.

  202. john hope you says:

    “they know. Not– what they do”

  203. Vicky says:

    People in positions of power always think they are right. Even when they bring in experts for there opinion if it not the same opinion as the government already have it must be wrong and it is ignored.
    Meaning of the word “ancient”, of a former time, old, alive and living in a former age. So clearly new planting will not replace what is lost, not until it too is ancient, by which time there will be few species to live in it.

  204. Carole Park says:

    I was a long term supporter of the Conservative party – even volunteering my time at elections but this lot seem to be totally in the thrall of big business. I would now rather vote for a Martian, or a frog, or …. well, anyone, anything, rather than put my X in their box.

  205. Bob Chapman says:

    Could not sights have aimed rather higher to gain protection for this valuable site – Woodland Trust should have gained support from powerful organisations such as the RSPB, CPRE – were they contacted? As another of your writers says – only 6000 persons signed the petition – that number has no clout – you need tens of thousands for these things to succeed. Too late now – another precious area bites the dust – yet another sad day, indeed!

    • Kaye Brennan says:

      Bob, only 6,000 people signed our petition to get the case called in because no one else did. It’s as simple as that. But 6,000 is a huge number of people! And those 6,000 people had enoromous clout! and they did succeed, we are enormously proud of them and what we all did together even with this sad outcome. We ARE powerful when we speak up for trees together. The larger charities you mention – and more – are, like us, only as powerful as the strength of their membership. You’ll have to ask them why they were not involved, but I’d expect it’s because fighting to protect woodland is not their raison d’etre just as protecting birds (for example) is not the Woodland Trust’s aim. Sometimes you do need hundreds of thousands of people to shout loudly in support, sometimes you just need 5 or 6 really good, personal letters to the right person to tip a decision over… it can entirely depend on the situation. But if those 6,000 had done nothing when we asked everyone for help all those years ago, then as Nikki says in a previous reply Hermitage Quarry would have been waved on through by the local Council’s planning committee which was happy to approve the plans – it was they who helped us get the case sent to be decided by the top. It will be they – and, I hope, all of you – who will help us to finally see no further loss of our precious ancient woodland in the future 🙂

      • Andy White says:

        Hello Kaye, I’m puzzled by this ‘loophole.’ Lord Attlee concured last week that ancient woodland is priceless. From the Guardian..
        When pressed on this issue in the Lords last month, Earl Attlee gave strong government assurances. “My Lords, the first point is that no economic value can be put on ancient woodland, because it is irreplaceable … there is very strong protection for ancient woodland because it cannot possibly be replaced or replicated… My Lords, I am satisfied that the NPPF will protect ancient woodland.”
        ”The crucial clause on irreplaceable habitats retains its troublesome wording, such that applications leading to loss or deterioration of ancient woods should be refused “unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.”

        If the wood is priceless how can it be weighed in the balance against any economic argument? Its quite simple, no amount of ‘need and benefit’ can ever outweigh that which transcends the scale balancing of financial considerations. Effectively, that which is priceless cannot be considered under the remit of ‘need and benefit’. The loophole is built on false logic.

        If this were not so we are surely entitled to see Mr Pickles maths on this matter. He has deliberated long and hard has he not? If the destruction of the wood ‘clearly outweighs’ leaving it alone let him prove it. He must have a whole ream of sums to back up his actions showing the value of Ragstone to be extracted vs… what? Come on Eric, show us the financial value youve chosen to place on National Heritage.

        Lets go a step further…..If a section 288 compaint against planning permission can only be mounted by demonstrating that the minister has behaved unreasonably,… is his placing of material value( which he must have done to conclude that it was outweighed by material considerations) on the irreplaceable not unreasonable?

  206. Britta lloyd says:

    Pathetic. Think of three generations on. What will they inherit? A healthy environment is crucial to our physical, emotional health. Woodlands are entirely positive. Short term gain at the cost of environmental loss is unforgivable. What happened to our green government?

  207. David Carter says:

    What in god’s name are you thinking about Mr Pickles, our beautiful country needs more green space and even more trees. We have got to think of our future generations, get a grip and think of people and not short term profit.

  208. lizan says:

    where’s Prince Charles when we need him, surely he would stop this?

  209. Phil Williamson says:

    Surely, there has to be a way of reversing the Secretary of State’s decision? If enough people sign a petition, take it to Downing St, will it not make a difference? It is shocking and utterly irresponsible of this government to allow such destruction of our natural environment to take place.

  210. Lorna Tampling says:

    Mr Pickles, Did you not think into the long term? Ancient Woodland cannot be re-created. There are things in life more important, like all the benefits of Woodland.

  211. John says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Martin! These unthinking and uncaring anti-environmentalists in parliament have no idea whatsoever about what they are doing when they destroy our countryside, covering it with concrete for one scheme or another and allowing the country to be criminally over-populated… for their own glory. In years to come the error of their ways will be only too clear – way too late to reverse the damage they have done.

  212. David says:

    With this government it’s all PR.
    They claim to be the ‘greenest government ever’ but their actions deny their words.
    Small wonder that ordinary people have lost interest in politics, or trust in politians.

  213. Martin says:

    Pickles, you are a fool. I have no respect for politicians of any party, and this sort of decision just strengthens that view.

  214. Radha Walker says:

    Disgusting! How can you justify destroying our woodlands? When will you learn to put life before profit! WAKE UP!

  215. Emma says:

    Again, money is more important to the suits than preserving our woodlands and all the wildlife it supports, we, as a human race are destroying this planet and there is going to be nothing left for the future generations . I strongly believe that Mother Nature will wipe out the human race to give Earth a chance… and you know what , I wouldn’t blame her one bit !

  216. Emma says:

    Again , money is more important to the suits than preserving our woodland and all the wildlife it supports , we, the human race are destroying this planet for all future generations .I strongly believe that in time Mother Nature will wipe us humans out to give Earth and all nature a chance.. And I wouldn’t blame her one bit !

  217. Mrs. Jean Cholerton. says:

    To Eric Pickles. Your name will be synonymous with destruction. Not only of this wonderful area of Oaken Woods, but of meadows to be destroyed behind Anne Hathaway`s Cottage in Shottery,
    Stratford-upon-Avon. You have rubber stamped 800 houses, shops, link road etc. directly behind the iconic home of Shakespeare`s wife. Tranquillity it not your style is it? Great names have passed in our history. You may be fortunate in not knowing what history makes of yours.

  218. Keith Bealing. says:

    This coalition government is not interested in conservation of woodland or anything else. They realise they have made a drastic error by opting for wind farms, so now it’s quarrying, boring for shale gas etc. The sooner they are voted out of office and drop the lib dems, the better.

    • Ella-Jo Mehta says:

      Keith – have I missed a trick? Why is the wind farm option such a drastic error? Is it because of natural habitat destruction (which I doubt the Government would be worried about) or something else? Any info or links gratefully received.

      Many thanks.

  219. David says:

    Let’s be serious about this. There was never any chance of saving this or any other wood. Tory politicians and big business are so far in to each other’s pockets there is no way of telling them apart. The only way to save woodland is to own it, and that’s not cast iron either. That’s why I don’t approve of the Trust spending money on woods they don’t own.

    • Alan Meekings says:

      I completely disagree you, even though I applaud your desire to protect our few remaining ancient woodlands.

      This was one decision made by the Planning Committee of Kent County Council on a vote of 10 to 6.

      Surely this one small (albeit significant) decision cannot be allowed to determine national policy on the preservation of ancient woodlands.

      I don’t have to own all ancient woodlands in order to protect them.

  220. R D Dalgleish says:

    Who elected this vandal? Shame on every one.

    • Andy White says:

      Do you mean , ‘shame on us?’ Indeed, but then if it is down to us, we can put it right. Only at the point that we take responsibility for the system that put Dill Pickles in charge will we ever approach being able to remedy the situation. We must stop blaming others. We did this, We created this system. We support it by voting time and again and ticking the invisible box that says, ‘the system is good, it has my faith’….Think about it.. how can a minister for local government be based in Whitehall? We signed our name to that too…. its time to think outside the box and stop playing by the rules…

  221. Kathy Wellington says:

    This decision just makes me feel so sad, there is nothing more to add!

  222. Matt Derrington says:

    This wood was a prime candidate with which a transparently capitalist party could have proved it belatedly recognised the limits of capitalism. It could have been an admirable landmark in every sense. Even the name was perfect for a ‘heart of England’ celebration.

    Instead it will soon be a desolate comment on the depths of human depravity. Money laundering as the handcart goes over the precipice. Well done Tories. I’ve always known you could be trusted. As for the people who let you back in, I suggest they either have therapy (perhaps a brain scan?), or simply buckle up their seat belts and lick those ice creams. Enjoy the ride.

  223. Ann Wooods says:

    Everything is about money, unfortunately woodland and other wildlife don’t pay, so they have to go. All we can do is campaign and take any victory where we can. but it is not right.

  224. Magnus says:

    ‘Pickles’ is an infamous name within the rotton walls of Parliament. This one has certainly lived up to the name of his 18th century predecessor by destroying something valuable to the electorate which was of no obvious consequence to himself. Just like his predecessor who helped to destroy peoples lives in the Highlands of Scotland without any apparent consequence to himself either.

  225. m. wright says:

    I cannot believe this man. What planet is he living on? Well we know what sort of planet it will be if this shower continue in government. London-based, London-centric (although he boasts his man-in-the-street, down-to-earth Northerner credentials) and money-oriented. They destroy everything anyone values about this country. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  226. Jo says:

    Will future generations be able to walk in ancient woodland?

  227. Victoria Whitaker says:

    What a terrible decision made without any forethought. Please won’t you reconsider?

  228. kathy short says:

    Everything this government does i for short term monetary gain. Their greed blinds them and makes them incapable of seeing the bigger picture. Our country is in the hands of idiots.

  229. Hang you head in shame Mr Pickles, the Destroyer, you are not fit to represent this country in any way. This decision is pure vandalism all in the name of ££££££. Joni Mitchell said it all in her song “Big Yellow Taxi” – you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone and if the Pickles of this land have their way that’s exactly what will happen. People like him just don’t care!

  230. betty donald says:

    I would love to donate ,and have completed the form three times, and can find no errors.
    I understand there is an error in my card details what on earth is it,please? Betty

  231. Helen Jewitt says:

    How can this happen in our ‘enlightened’ age? I am beyond disgusted that the evidence should be ignored all in the pursuit of material gain. We will lose something of inestimable value with the loss of this woodland. Shame on you all who allowed this to happen. Shame on you.

  232. Barbara Dye says:

    What IS the matter with this man Pickles? More to the point, why was he appointed to his ministerial post? He’s obviously just a facilitator, but unfortunately not the only one in this government. Now he wants us to concrete over our front gardens to make them into public car parks!

  233. Hang your head in shame Mr Pickles, destroyer and vandal. He and all those like him only have one motive: ££££££££. The old Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” says it all – you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. So very true these days.

  234. Sylvie C says:

    It’s all down to greed with no thought for the environment, our heritage or the future. I have been a like-long tory but will never, ever vote for them again. Not just because of this but it’s the final straw. Mr Pickles, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  235. Sharon says:

    Absolutely disgraceful that Mr Pickles has given the go-ahead for this to happen. He should feel thoroughly ashamed for what he has done. Once gone these ancient woodlands can never be replaced.

  236. Alison Eldridge says:

    Unfortunately Oaken Wood was doomed years ago when Gallagher acquired it! Before then it was a beautiful and free place to roam, but then the heavy plant dug huge ditches and ‘creative’ replanting disguised many of the old traditional paths.People who had been enjoying the wood for years were discouraged from using it, despite the fancy signs saying otherwise. Money talks and there is only one winner in all of this, and so very, very, many losers. Such a shame. How long does it take for an ancient woodland to grow? How long to destroy it Mr Gallagher?

  237. Sally says:

    Typical of Pickles!! What is the point of MP’s-they claim to represent the mood of the people but time and time again they make decisions that are an absolute disgrace and which no-one supports- if they only bothered to ask the people on the street!!¬

  238. Marc du Ry says:

    A most shameful and shortsighted decision that will haunt him to the end of his days. There is no excuse, neither social nor ‘economic’, for destroying woodland. To destroy an irreplaceable one is unspeakable.

  239. Lyndon Smith says:

    I am very shocked to think that these polititions dont reallise the importance of these habitats to our envoirement.I can only think of one reason that would make someone authorise such an act of vandolisum,and that is there own financial gain,they must be receiving backhanders from the developers GREED.

  240. Geoffrey. says:

    This is a betrayal of their country,their heritage ,and the voters. It is a treason against their country,and should be punishable in law..Unfortunately,the law making establishment is under their control. Pickles has betrayed his country and his post. It is time the people stood up and demanded the removal of this lying government,they do it in other countries; why not here?

    As a pensioner and grandparent,I shudder to think what the future holds for what remains of this wonderful country.I have never been militant,but these liars and misleaders,who supposedly we voted into office have forced me to stand up and be counted. Let’s show them who is boss at the next election, if there are any of us left who care about our country.

  241. Alexandra Priestley says:

    This is a sad, sad day. Greenest government ever? I don’t think so. They’re vandals, pure and simple. And, Mr Pickles, there *is* an economic benefit to protecting and cherishing our woodlands. It’s not just a simple matter of economics versus the environment. I do hope the Trust will be conveying our utter dismay and sadness to this dreadful man.

  242. S. Harrup says:

    A saying I once heard ( from Africa) “We do not inherit the land from our fathers…We borrow it from our children.” Think on!

  243. Michael Dawe says:

    Although ‘nature’ has not perhaps been too kind to him, there is no need for him to try to get his own back. He may look like a total plonker but he doesn’t have to prove it!

  244. Goff Oldaker says:

    You have done everything possible Nicky – except perhaps to encourage us all to email Secretary Pickles, Mr Cameron and Mr Cleg to express our disgust. Remind us all of their email addresses so that we can vewnt our anger. Goff Oldaker

  245. roger says:

    enviromental damage such as this equates to criminal damage, crime against humanity and wildlife. am surprised at this short termism and lack of understanding. it just shows how IQ challenged most politicians are when they do not tackle the real issues, only plying for votes at the next election. displaying complete lack of foresight and these fools have lost my vote.

  246. Mo Hatton says:

    I have written to Mr Pickles to register my disappointment and he passes me on to the communities office who sent me the outcome of the decisions . I have responded again to this e mail but I suspect no one is going to listen . Well They better watch out as voters leave in droves . So sad that this government is all about making money over the protection of our small and beautiful island. It frightens me to think how our children and grandchildren will fair in the future as the heart of our nation is destroyed. Who the heck do we vote for is there no one out there who values our heritage and our land . Beware fracking will be the next thing to tear up our land and woods . I wish I was younger I would rage even harder to defend our country . The best I can do is write my outrage. good luck Woodlands trust keep up the fight may you bring the young on board to help you I will do my best to support you whenever I can .

  247. Andy White says:

    The predominant veiw seems to be that this is all about big business and money. I say it is about hate. Big business could make its money elsewhere. Stone is all over the place. The wood is being destroyed because it is beautiful, because it is loved, because it fills the hearts and reels the senses of those whose souls are still sufficiently free of technocratic values to be able to appreciate them. The ‘suits’ are motivated not just by greed but by envy, envy of anything that is free, that lives outside their narrow proscribed world all eaten up as it is with power mongering and the philosophy that ‘might has right’. This is a corporate attack on Nature, motivated by envy and fear of the untamed. In 2500 BC king Hezekiah of Jerusalem did the same and cut down every grove of trees within 80 leagues of the city walls, but he at least knew why he was doing it, because woodland copses were the dwelling place of the Goddess that he hated and envied and was determined to wipe out. Mr Pickles’ pickle is that he doesn’t even know why he has done this, only that he has the power to do it. A warning Mr Pickles, your attack on Nature is predicated on the assumption that you live outside Nature. But your very body is nature and what goes around comes…around.

  248. Alan Meekings says:

    I though I’d just subscribed to an e-Petition created by Julie Taylor at

    My comments are as shown below. However, I now doubt if this is a live e-Petition, as I couldn’t find it on the government’s e-Petition website at

    Can anyone please tell me what’s going on?

    Meanwhile, the comments I posted were as follows:

    I cannot believe that the Coalition Government (especially given its supposedly ‘green’ and environmentally-friendly pretentions) has actually authorised this crass, needless and totally avoidable decision.

    What on earth is going on? It’s not like there’s a global world shortage of aggregates (aka crushed stone) that would merit destroying any of the UK’s remaining ancient woodland.

    Obviously, it’s much easier and more commercially attractive for Gallagher Group to extend their existing quarry (albeit thereby destroying irreplaceable ancient woodland) than to set up a new quarry elsewhere.

    However, the Coalition Government promised that ancient woodlands would be protected in their attempt to facilitate and speed up planning applications with potential economic benefits to the nation.

    I can only think that Eric Pickles was having a ‘bad hair day’ when he agreed to add his signature to this senseless planning authorisation. Either that or his officials simply don’t understand the words “protecting ancient woodlands”.

    I find myself sounding like Victor Meldrew when I say, “I cannot believe this.”

    It’s just so daft and inappropriate a decision that it’s almost inconceivable.

    Just because Kent County Council’s Planning Committee (just a few elected members) agreed by 10 votes to 6 in favour this planning application (and Eric Pickles is promoting the principle of ‘localisation of decision-making’), this doesn’t make it this good decision for the nation. In fact, it’s an extraordinarily bad decision.

  249. Dene Shepherd says:

    Here we go again , same old , same old from the latest bunch of abject politicians.Hell bent on destroying all the remaining countryside for the personal gain of a few. What a legacy to leave to our children and grandchildren. Wonder when we’ll get a decent political party that really cares , obviously this lot ( including their lap dogs the Lib Dems ) and Labour don’t.

    • roger says:

      impoverishing our landscape by further destruction of ancient woodland is very sad and sows the seeds for worse to come. humans and wildlife are losers in the long term. yes its all about greed, power and votes by selfish people who should know better!

  250. Trisha says:

    This government does not seem to genuinely consider or care about anything much apart from themselves, their chums and their own particular agenda. We are have had, and are having, so much imposed on us that we do not want, or need, amongst which is the extraordinary size of the house building programme which every area of the country is going to suffer from. Why? In my lifetime, the country has lost 90% of its meadowland. And the rail “improvement” HS2 which will decimate much more – for what? Saving half-hour on travel time. If this was a film such wanton disregard towards our beautiful country and its people would be too far-fetched to be credible.

  251. Sara says:

    It’s actually a tradegy. Beautiful woodland destroyed by the man in charge against the wishes of the general public. Who does he think he is to condemn this beautiful place and its wildlife.

  252. Colin Roberts says:

    Martyn Lloyd is right. we need to tell the government that we won’t be voting to them because of actions such as this & others that they’ve already taken, then they might well take action.

  253. Alison McWilliams says:

    It is a sad sad world and a sad sad day when the natural world is knocked for six AGAIN..

  254. Jackie Patrick says:

    I’m so choked that this has happened I’m afraid I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said already. Pickles had the chance to do the right thing and save this wood. Instead it’s another green space that’s been lost forever. Will Government please listen – and stop digging up green spaces. Attitudes towards wealth and transport have to change. It’s just so. sad.

  255. R. Shepherd says:

    Stop destroying our finite countryside Pickles , Yet another party I won’t be voting for again.

  256. Martyn Lloyd says:

    I think the only thing that politicians listen to is voters. I.e. if enough people make it clear to them that they will lose the next election because of their actions, only then will they re-think their policies/actions. Woodland Trust need to convert all the supporters into a “political” action group to use the power of their votes to make the government take notice.

  257. Andrea Balderston says:

    We are lucky enough to live beside The National Forest. A scheme set up with a vision that goes beyond the next election, the next headline or even the next generation. Can you think of any other project in any sphere that takes such a long term view? Where are the politicians with the conviction and confidence or the lack of ego that enables them to step away from the short term thinking and decision making that allows the vandalism that is the destruction of Oaken Wood. Shame on you Mr Pickles. What a shameful legacy to leave for the next generation.

  258. Colin Burgess says:

    Why are our politicians hell-bent on destroying the country in so many ways? They are supposed to serve the country and its people, not lie down and let developers and the rest of the world walk all over us. Together with a number of neighbours, my wife and I have just bought 5 acres of (currently greenbelt) woodland backing our properties to prevent developers moving in when the planning laws are relaxed to make unscrupulous people (including many in public service I fear) wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Other local residents are trying to raise £600,000 to buy nearly 200 acres of woodland for similar reasons to our own. As ordinary taxpayers, we should not have to be doing this and we wouldn’t if only it were possible to elect a decent principled government.

  259. John Wilkes says:

    At last people are beginning to realise that a tory never changes.Money is more important than life,any life including human life,and that the only important drive is to put profit in the pockets of their already wealthy friends.A few quid in profit or a thousand year old tree?We know what the tories would vote for.

  260. Joshus Fitzgerald says:

    Absolutely unjustifiable. I appreciate the need for Ragstone, but does it really exceed the demand for ancient woodland that already only covers 2% of our country? Disgusting decision by a repugnant little man.

  261. Keith W. Rule says:

    Just like all Tories, Pickles reveals himself to be in the pocket of business and on the side of all those whose wickedness and greed allows them to see everything only in terms of how they personally can profit from it, and to hell with the world and the rest of us mere insignificant organisms who must share it with them. There was never much doubt that Pickles would ‘find’ any other way; he will never have seriously considered any other outcome; it will have been a done deal before the debate was ever allowed to begin. That is the nature of these people that we allow into power. They will continue to ride rough shod over the planet until something is done, or happens, to bring about a sea change in attitudes. Sadly I think that’s likely to be the mass extinction of the majority of living things currently on the planet and the realization that we’ve left it all too damned late! We are already well on the way. …Still whats a few trees? You can’t hoard those in a bank and pass them on to countless future generations of idle, chinless wastrels, so that they can lord it over the proles, can you?

  262. Mary Philo says:

    Dear Mr Pickles,

    Why on earth have you given permission for yet another precious habitat to be destroyed in the interests of…..what exactly? Possibly profit in the short term but in the long-term this erosion of our beautiful woodland will erode all that makes this lovely country so special. I am surprised that as a ‘conservative’ you have so little regard for your heritage and have regressed to post-war brutalism. THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY – WE NEED TO PROTECT NOT EXPLOIT! Wake up and smell the coffee Mr Pickles before it’s too late.

  263. Simon Smewing says:

    Oh no just found out about this – so depressing.
    Have written to my MP who is a Lib Dem minister in the government.

  264. chris adams says:

    Another little step backwards for Mr. Pickles, another great step backwards for mankind.
    Will the last word ever spoken be why?

  265. Pam Harris says:

    This decision doesn’t surpise me at all. This government knows the price of everything and the value of absolutely nothing. Can you imagine Mr Pickles taking a gentle walk anywhere, let alone in ancient woodland. This government has only one policy where the environment is concerned – slash and burn and pocket the cash.

  266. Sally Martin says:

    Another irreplaceable asset is destroyed so someone can get richer or travel faster. It won’t end until our country is completely without green space and we have no habitats left for any species apart from humans. It is beyond depressing: it is short-sighted greed, pure and simple. I fear for my children and what the world will be for them.
    Eric Pickles, you will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

  267. Sylvie Anderson says:

    Why is it that these ‘elected representatives’ instead of listening to what we want start telling us what we need! Well I for one don’t need another hole in the ground. I would rather keep thewoodland for my children and grandchildren. I am so tired of politicians who think they know best. They are destroying this beautiful land.

  268. Jacqueline Hickman says:

    Our country is overpopulated. More and more of our ancient woodlands and natural environments are being ruined forever by the demands of an increasing population. How long before we live in a concrete jungle? We do not need more quarries to create even more buildings and roads. These ancient woodlands can never be replaced. OK trees can be planted, but the ecosystems of the ancient woodlands will take many generations to build up to their previous states.
    So much for ‘the greenest government ever’! It has overseen more ecosystem destruction already than previous governments. Get rid of them!!!

  269. Hazel Smith. says:

    No this cannot be allowed to happen! please dont destroy this wonderful area

  270. A Venner says:

    Such a wicked, shortsighted act of destruction. I am so sad and grow increasingly frustrated with this ‘green government’.

  271. George says:

    It seems to me that people in positions of power and responsibility have little or no knowledge of our complex ecosystems – how each part is vitally important to the smooth running of life on earth as we know it. Take away the smallest component and other parts will come crashing down!

    Surely this country is completed by now! (was going to say finished but that could have a double meaning)

  272. Eleanor McLees says:

    Here we go again! Despite everything, once again financial gain is the driving force behind the government’s actions rather than the wishes of the electorate. Ancient woodland is a rare and precious resource that cannot be replaced once it has been grubbed up. What are these people thinking? Their lack of foresight and plain ignorance is appalling.

  273. Richard Carrington says:

    Why do those in positions of power seem hell-bent on destroying this “green and pleasant land”. How long before they reduce it to a soulless concrete jungle.

  274. Graham says:

    I wonder how many favours were pulled in to buy this decision!

  275. E.Manning says:

    Every square foot of ancient woodland is precious to us all, it’s irreplaceable and our land ever poorer for it’s loss. Such destruction in the name of ‘progress’ is short sighted in the extreme. The greenest government ever, don’t make me laugh.

  276. Angela E Jones says:

    Are we to cover EVERY scrap of this land in bricks and mortar, gaping holes and chimneys spewing out toxic smoke, what legacy will there be for future generations? No green and pleasant land for them to enjoy, it will come a time when they will have to google what a tree is!!!
    Shame on you Mr money grabbing Pickles, shame on you

  277. Steve Rogers says:

    Greenest government ever? Load of two-faced unmentionables more like. Eric Pickles – I am disgusted by your idiocy. We do not need more open quarries in this country and especially when they destroy irreplacable habitat like this.

  278. Phil says:

    We had a planning public inquiry near Buxton which involved felling an area of ancient woodland. The developer’s ‘experts’ downplayed the quality of the woods and the species it contained to the point where the planning inspector completely agreed with them. You would think it was a rubbish dump rather than part of a continuous stretch of beautiful woodland along the Wye Valley. Luckily the development got turned down for other issues. The threat to wildlife seems to always get a very low priority when development, growth, jobs are on the agenda.

  279. Louise says:

    When will we stop pouring concrete on our beautiful green land. Forests are so rare as it is. There not just homes for animals but they are our source of clean air that we all need to breathe. The government won’t be happy till we’re breathing through oxygen masks because they’ve destroyed out forest. Time for it to stop!!!!!
    Grrrrrrrrr! To the government!!!!

  280. Jean Routledge says:

    I am deeply saddenned that our “green and pleasant land” is slowly and surely becoming a barren one. Yes, I understand we have to balance the need for raw materials against the value of our green areas, but some green areas are irreplaceable, as is the case with Oaken Wood, being an ancient woodland. I too have totally lost any little faith that I had in the current government. But we will continue to fight for what we believe is right, for the sake of our descendants.

  281. Dan says:

    Another short sighted act based on political and economic short term views. Profoundly ignorant.

  282. Barry Slater says:

    This is Beeching all over again. I was so happy when this Government got into power,but now I’m feeling so sad that I helped them in with my vote. Having said that I feel that any government would act the same. What a mess.

  283. The destruction of ancient woodland was a lot worse in the Bronze Age! If we are serious about saving the planet then we need to reduce the human population by about 110%.

  284. Robert J Harris says:

    This decision is another sign that the government doesn’t care a hoot for our precious natural heritage. All it cares about is money, power and privilege. “‘By their fruits you shall know them.” Look up those words Mr Pickles, and bow your head in disgrace and repentance.

  285. Martin says:

    Eric Pickles is a disgrace! Again pandering to big business regardless of the impact on nature and the environment!

  286. Then they wonder why politicians have lost any respect they once had from the people. Back tracking; giving in to big business schemes and all leading to the destruction of the beauty in which we all live and relax.

    The man doesn’t deserve the position and responsibility he holds

  287. Penny says:

    Unfortunately I do not think it matters what political party is in control at Westminster “money talks”. I live in a small village where they want to build more and more houses on green areas even though that a large number of properties in the area that are unsold or unoccupied. I grew up in the countryside adjacent to woodland, where I was able to [safely] run and play. There are ‘old’ woodlands not far from where I live now where my children often went and where we have always walked in all seasons but at the rate these woodlands are destroyed there will be no where for future generations to walk, observe and understand nature at ‘grass’ roots.I wish I knew or understood why we have to destroy everything in nature these days all for the sake of ‘money’ I think it is time ALL powers that be, whether it is national or local government STOPPED and really listened, walked the areas in questioned and seriously thought AGAIN, but probably not in my life time or that of my children [now adults] or their children but when it is far too late. Some things in life are made to throw away and be replaceable but nature is not, if it has taken 500 years for a woodland to grow no matter how many trees etc are planted now they will never replace how we have already lost!

  288. Ian Brown says:

    No one in the Government, nor any of their scientific advisors, understands ecology. And we can’t expect any public inquiry inspectors to understand either. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy; anyone who thinks that Ancient Woodland can be replaced should not be entrusted with deciding the future of our environment.

    • Caspar says:

      Hear hear. I’m going to repeat your last line for emphasis:
      Anyone who thinks that Ancient Woodland can be replaced should not be entrusted with deciding the future of our environment.

  289. Corinne Wheeler says:

    I think Mr Pickles has destroyed more than an ancient wood – he has destroyed any last dregs of trust for government that might have been clinging on. How are we to teach our children that our natural inheritance is more valuable and crucial for life if those they should be able to trust do such foolish deeds as this? Using capital as income is a road to catastrophe and that is what they are doing. They are giving the clear message that they are only intereted in cashing in in the short term while they have the power and have little interest in the long term investment for us and our descendents. I am devastated.

    • Caspar says:

      I completely concur. This is destruction of our natural resources and national heritage for the financial profit of a few, nothing more or less. And that is what this government sees as its primary purpose.

  290. Julie Norwood says:

    Disgusted and very sad. It seems this government bows down to any large company trying to harm what woodland or pleasant areas left to make a profit. There seems to be no protection – no wonder people are protesting in West Sussex about fracking and I think this seems the only option left.

  291. Such staggering idiocy speaks for itself. Mr Pickles is no doubt content. And probably better off.

  292. G. Housley says:

    When will people realise that we need air to breath and we are polluting the air and the sea, and cutting down the trees and therefore slowly destroying our sources of oxygen. Then there is the need for biodiversity, recreation, appreciation of beauty etc etc but it’s always money first; mainly of course for the fat cats who control industry and big business. They will argue the need for houses etc but houses can be built in other ways using renewable materials that are better insulated and healthier to live in. I despair!

  293. David Leadbetter says:

    It is an utterly reprehensible decision and the government should hang its head in shame. Ancient woodland is such a precious habitat and it will take centuries to recreate.

  294. Eric says:

    “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realise that you cannot eat money …..”

  295. Anthony Kay says:

    I don’t find the decision surprising, given Mr Pickles’ record here in Charnwood (Leics), where he has repeatedly overturned good planning decisions made by the Borough Council to allow development to go ahead on greenfield sites. He has shown that he cares nothing about our green and pleasant land. Very depressing!

    • Geoff says:

      I envy the people in the devolved nations so much, because planning and the environment are devolved matters, so forests, rivers and lakes in those countries are beyond that thug’s reach. If I lived in Scotland, I’d vote for independence just to make sure Scotland stays beyond his reach.

  296. Graeme Spratley says:

    All this current government understands are the politics of greed. I think they are as bad if not worse than the era of the Old Witch. I despair for our environment, but we have to keep on fighting the fight. The sad reality is that most politicians couldn’t care less, with a number of honourable exceptions.

  297. Patrick Drury says:

    Eric Pickles does not care about the environment. He and this disgusting government are not the greenest but the dirtiest ever. They have designed the NPPF to enrich developers and make it impossible for the citizens of this country to protect the special places.

  298. David R says:

    This is yet another example of this Secretary of State’s “localism, localism, localism” policy: namely that all decisions should be made locally unless I, Eric Pickles, feel like making the decision myself.

  299. Lynn Walker says:

    I despair. When will our politicians start using common sense? Immediate gratification and profit seem to be the important things today. Sadly ancient woodland with its sense of time and history cannot compete.
    Eric Pickles you should be ashamed of yourself. You have rubber stamped the destruction of something beautiful which took centurys to make and cannot be replaced.

  300. TUD says:

    Yet another MP lining his pockets at the cost of ancient woodland lost for ever

  301. Simon Turner says:

    Our politicians continue to let us down and lie to us. The ‘greenest government ever’ is the biggest liar ever.

  302. Richard Foinette says:

    How Eric Pickles got to where he is is beyond me. This is not the first time he has made appalling decisions. It would seem that to him, ancient woodland is just a load of trees – you can always plant new ones. It does appear that the Government’s pronouncement that the new planning regulations would still protect green areas is so much hogwash. An absolute disgrace.

  303. Ember says:

    I am so sorry. The trees are our hope for the future, standing as our guardians against drought and flood and tempest. The trees bring cool in raging hot summer and shelter from storm. They watch over us in beauty, purifying the air and stabilising the earth, slowing down the movement of water through the landscape. I once heard a politician say he prioritised people above trees. When the last forest is cut down, and all the woodland gone, he will have to wake up to what is wrong with that philosophy. The trees of England and the freedom of the people are our treasure. Seems that with this government we are losing both.

  304. Dave says:


    Green Government. Don’t insult my intelligence. Yet another irreplaceable piece of our national heritage gone forever. Trying to teach children of the future about our ancient woodlands will have to be carried out by means of photographs and video aids as the real thing will have vanished if idiotic rulings like this are allowed to continue by those in positions of power. God help us all !

  305. Nigel Harwood says:

    Destroying our beautiful countryside…Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to have elected representatives worthy of the name?

  306. Glyn Morrow says:

    Please don`t do this, Mr Pickles. Have you no shame, no sensitivity to our natural heritage? Are you only motivated by money? Again – please don`t do this!

  307. Wendy Blackham says:

    I have now email Eric Pickles direct. He has not responded, but at least he knows how I feel, disgusted

  308. Jayne Wilson says:

    If we – a relatively rich country – can’t save our forests what hope do we have of saving the worlds rain forests in poor countries?

  309. Jenny foster says:

    You should be ashamed of yourself , as a man given the responsibility , as a human who is taking a great piece of our heritage and history away. Feel that shame , do something to change it ! It cannot ever be recreated , you are hurting the earth.

  310. Peter Westbury says:

    Nothing surprises me any more when it comes to the destruction of the environment.
    The only chance this country has is to vote Green, none of the major parties will ever fulfill their promises on environmental/animal welfare matters.

  311. Pingback: Rare moth discovery in Kent, England | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  312. Jacquie Cox says:

    I think the point some folks are trying to make here is that people power can change government’s mind, even when the planning route has been exhausted. The fact that so many people don’t want this should be brought to the attention of this government. They changed their minds over selling of the Public Forest Estate because of public opinion, and could do over this if there was a large enough response.

    It seems that people feel like the WT has given up the fight, which is why they want to involve other orgs, where weight of numbers change minds. People are waking up to the fact that ‘we the people’ elected the government, and that they should do our bidding. Organisations like Greenpeace, 38 Degrees, and even Sea Shepherd, have shown that people power = change. Folks are no longer content with ‘that’s the end of the planning process’, or ‘we have no legal foot to stand on.’

  313. Nikki Williams says:

    Thank you for the many comments on why this campaign hasnt been taken onwards to Europe. A quick overview from our ecology expert on where the process that has been followed sits within the wider accountability process:

    Section 40 of the NERC Act says:

    Duty to conserve biodiversity

    (1)Every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.
    (2)In complying with subsection (1), a Minister of the Crown, government department or the National Assembly for Wales must in particular have regard to the United Nations Environmental Programme Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992.
    (3)Conserving biodiversity includes, in relation to a living organism or type of habitat, restoring or enhancing a population or habitat.

    Where the important bit is “have regard to”. The Act does not imply that a decision cannot be made if it would harm a priority habitat or species but only that the impacts must be considered. Mr Pickles has the right to say that the Environmental Impact Assessment that was carried out as part of the application, and the full investigation at the Inquiry, fulfils this duty.

    I have spoken with a number of concerned people and campaign organisations (including 38 degrees) to outline the process we have followed and it has become clearer to many that we have taken this as far as is legally possible through the current planning process. Ultimately we have a loophole in the system, the one we said would cause ancient woodland to remain vulnerable to development and that Government stated would not make ancient woodland vulnerable! they were wrong and we must return to campaigning around closing this loophole, which the Woodland Trust will involve everybody in very soon.

    Thank you everyone for your fantastic comments – keep them coming

    • Sandie says:

      Thanks for taking the trouble to reply on this point, Nikki – sorry to raise another but could you say whether the suggestion to go to the EU using the SEA Directive 2001/42/EC and any Directive on oxides of nitrogen has been considered, as suggested by edithkl? She says that breaking some of the NOx Directives has now been criminalised by another EU Directive called “Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law” (2008/99/EC).

      • Nikki Williams says:

        Hi Sandie, having consulted a qualified planner and senior ecologist, they have informed us of the following around the SEA Directive 2001/42/EC:

        The SEA directive applies to plans, not individual private projects so they went through the EIA process instead – as such it is not applicable.

        The main source of NOx emissions is the combustion of fuels in motor vehicles, residential and commercial furnaces, industrial and electrical-utility boilers and engines, and other equipment.

        As they are an existing quarry they will regularly have been tested for a number of emissions as part of their quarrying activity – dust being one of the major ones but NOx is a key part of testing. Again, this was dealt with as part of the EIA process and there are standard emission guidelines which they have been given as part of the conditions for planning approval

        • Sandie says:

          Thanks Nikki – last hope dashed.

          • Nikki Williams says:

            Sorry – I know!
            We will have to fight the issues around the loop hole in the planning process if we are to really make a difference for our ancient woods – we are just building a campaign to this affect. I promise we’ll give you a shout as soon as we need to stand together. We need people with your level of persistence to see this through 🙂 speak soon.

          • Sandie says:

            Girding my loins as we speak!

      • Alan Meekings says:

        Hello Nikki,

        Forgive for saying that I think you may be campaigning on a less than ideal basis.

        If you think back to our earlier campaigning to reverse Caroline Spelman’s decision to sell off our whole forest estate, you’ll recall that the Coalition Government not only reversed this privatisation policy but also promised to preserve our ancient woodlands.

        It seems to me that we should now be campaigning to ensure that the Coalition Government delivers on this extremely high-profile policy promise, made back then.

        Unfortunately, by the time of the next Election, as things currently stand, Oaken Woods will have been destroyed, and this cannot be right.

        So we must act quickly.

        In this context, it may be helpful to make reference to policy commitments the Coalition Government made earlier and seek to hold our democratically elected representatives, at national level, to account.

        • Nikki Williams says:

          Thanks Alan,and sorry for my slight delay as I have been out of reach from technology. Yes, we do need to pull together a comprehensive account of the many times we have seen promises made and broken and the many policy documents that claims protection is in place (!!). We have to hold to account those who make decisions on the future of our woodlands.Our next campaign will bring together this body of evidence to fight much more robustly for all ancient woods through a combination of using the system better and fighting for further change. We expect a long hard slog, but Oaken is a vital case to highlight the situation we are in…and with over 300 individual ancient woods under threat as far as we know about (there is bound to be more) this bigger attack on current policy will be essential. In the mean time we still face A21 and HS2 as major cases. The threats are relentless and we appreciate everyones amazing energy to see change – we want to see change too and we will respond to that very soon alongside a team of ecologists and planning experts that we are drawing together. In the mean time, please do inform the Woodland Trust of any threats you become aware of in your local area. We continue to fight on a case by case basis every day

  314. Paddy Byrne says:

    Our natural woodland coverage here in the UK is way below that of the rest of Europe. Destruction of any woodland is serious enough but the destruction of our ancient woodland is catastrophic and unforgivable. The decision taken by Mr Pickles to destroy this ancient woodland must put into question Her Majesty’s Government’s environmental policy; regardless of any rhetoric to the contrary! Mr Pickles, please reconsider!

  315. Peter Pool says:

    I find an interesting analogy in all this. This so called “Greenest Government” is so desperately keen not to leave financial debt to those that come after us, but all the while seem content with leaving behind a desolate and denuded landscape.

  316. Andrew Lloyd says:

    As is tacitly accepted in Kay’s opening paragraphs, politicians will invariably let you down in a decision between environment and commercial development. Putting up a fight is always worth it, even if you do lose but maybe it’s also important to keep planting new trees, keep spreading the message about how wonderful trees, woods and forests are and keep finding and promoting as many ways as possible of making sure people understand how important woodland is to all of us.

    What is Zac Goldsmith doing in that party?

  317. Brian says:

    I am not a local but did spend five years in North Wales and can assure you Oaken Wood is not alone. Globally politicians of every persuasion are clearly bereft of the necessary smarts to understand the big picture. It is so simple it is infuriating – “no tree no me” and that goes for all creatures, dumb politicians included. As for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and their “MAG” approach; god help us, are they serious? Artificial trees removing carbon dioxide more efficiently than real trees and transporting it to expired North Sea oil wells. Talk about fantasy or fallacy or even futility.
    The underlying issue apart from the obvious loophole in the planning statutes is simply human GREED. If we expect to have a planet that will support future generations’ human kind needs to firstly reduce the birth rate, stop breeding! and stop buying stuff they don’t need. Of course the big end of town will continue to bombard us with clever advertising convincing us that we need or must have it.
    As for a way forward, maybe it is time for citizens from every country to protest. After all this is a global issue, your Oaken Wood provides environmental services to the whole planet, as do the trees in Turkey.

  318. Jen says:

    I am totally against this – this is not what the people want – DON’T DO IT

  319. What does anyone expect from a Cabinetr of millionaires who live in untouched parts of the UK, they just don’t care your only answer is in 2015 KICK tghem OUT

  320. Jane says:

    I’ve done that and hope lots of others have too. A 38 Degrees campaign about ancient woodland would be great.

  321. Sandie says:

    I haven’t the read all 126 posts but I agree that the online power of 38degrees should be used to flag up the consequences of this disgraceful decision. But it also occurs to me that it would be more valuable if each one of us wrote direct to Eric Pickles to tell him how we feel. 127 emails or letters clogging up his inboxes will have greater impact than repining here – we are all devastated, let him know it. I have.

  322. Mary Wright says:

    Shame on you Mr Pickles, for sacrificing this woodland! Your short sightedness will have serious implications for us all. Educate yourself and help to save our world rather than reaping destruction.

  323. rachel monrowe says:

    This is very tragic for not only the woodland but for the community and for the U.K and world. The effects of such decisions and ripples of their effects are widespread and long standing. it is very sad that little insight has been taken in making this decision on the long term effects on an ever reducing green and wooded land.

  324. Wendy Blackham says:

    I can’t stop crying. It is so awful

  325. Pingback: Cultural Revolutions | Woodland Matters

  326. Lynn says:

    I’m afraid the moment more jobs are promised then that seems to take precedence over any other factors. Look at how Trump got permission to destroy irreplaceable coastal habitat in Scotland for yet another golf course on the promise of hundreds of new jobs, most of which, apparently, haven’t materialised.
    I don’t think any UK government could be classed as ‘green’. The Environment always seems to be very low down the agenda and the Press don’t help much either. The report in the Chronicle on the A21 widening scheme barely mentioned the loss of ancient woodland. Last week we heard how supportive our local MP is of fracking with exploratory surveys starting in Kent now.
    All of these developments/schemes are there directly or indirectly to support our addiction to consumerism. How we change this quest for ‘growth, growth, growth’ and achieve an equilibrium is obviously a complex issue and one that I’m not qualified to address. Meanwhile Oaken Wood is another victim to the cause!

  327. Kim Garey says:

    I have read all your comments, and I am too, are devastated-but where is any fight back? Its almost we accept it and cant change it. Never underestimate the power of the people- that’s our problem. So I would like personally to take the government to court. Any conscientious solicitor out there going to give me advice? If not , I will happily tread the path alone.

    • Nikki Williams says:

      Hi Kim. When it comes to the planning process, our professional advisors have clearly told us there is no case to answer with Oaken Wood. But as for the system that allows this and the loop hole – there is something we can do & a campaign will be live soon!

      • Sandie says:

        Please don’t give up, lawyers are not inflallible – why don’t you take note of edithkl’s advice below re invoking the EU’s SEA Directive 2001/42/EC and any Directive on oxides of nitrogen? Alternatively start a 38degrees petition, anyone can do it providing they have all the data and know the issues, and you certainly do. I simply cannot understand how one man’s decision can be final on this in view of all the local and national objections. We need to hammer that point home – several hundred thousand signatures on a petition will be a wake up call to a Government seeking election in only two years time.

    • edithkl says:

      It’s not “people power”, or solicitors, that you need. You need to sit down for a couple of days (with breaks) and read the two UN Conventions (on Biological Diversity and Climate Change) – both are quite short and a very nice read too.

      You then need to read the EU Directives enforcing the Conventions. If we were not in the EU, they would be identical UK laws – all nations (apart from the USA which did not sign) have the same laws with small variations depending on their particular legal system.

      The Directives are the SEA Directive 2001/42/EC and any Directive on oxides of nitrogen. Breaking some of the NOx Directives has now been criminalised by another EU Directive called “Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law” (2008/99/EC) because no-one was obeying them (they forbid large increases in traffic, basically! – such as those caused by any large development including housing).

      The EU Directives are a bit more tedious – you need to learn how to skip bits you don’t need, this is easy after a while.

      Once long ago, I got fed up with my lawyers and wrote for advice to a Professor of Law. He wrote back and said the best thing anyone can do, even if they left school at 16, is go to the Library and see if a Statute covers their plight (as defendant or plaintiff, doesn’t matter which). If it does, you read the Statute and all connected laws and explanations and a few cases on the subject too – and then all you need to do is either tell your lawyers – or tell the judge yourself if your lawyers get shirty.

      Doing it yourself is especially important in Environmental Law, where every Convention, Directive, and Statute insists that the public be kept informed and involved from the start of any project that will affect the Environment. Yes, this mandatory “Consultation” has become a fig-leaf, a mere tick-box exercise – but it is up to us to pick up the basic Law and prevent this abuse.

      Contrary to popular belief, the Law is not an Ass – but the people using it often are. If we don’t use it at all, then we are Asses too. The Law is written down, and is usually quite brief. If you stick to what it says, you can’t go wrong – but you will severely annoy all those who do not want to stick to what it says.

      • Andy White says:

        This is excellent. You have great knowledge here. So what is the statute that covers the plight of Oaken wood. Come on Edithkl. The thinking is great but it needs chanelling and making practical. Talk to me.

        • I’ve signed this petition, sent in a previous reply by Frances Taylor :-
          If everyone signed it Oaken Wood could be saved – let’s not give up yet!!!

  328. The face of greed indeed. In small communities, the effect is being felt. Too late when the trees are lying prostrate, and the lungs of the countryside cease to exist.

    When, oh when will those who govern suggest a halt to the human breeding programme? How about a tax on progeny, or a programme of realistic birth control? It would mean fewer human beings, and would ease the demand for space and food. .

    • Sue says:

      I totally agree with you, are we going to carry on breeding until be cover the entire planet shoulder to shoulder! Couples who have large numbers of children should pay more in tax as they use more public services in the form of education, health, etc.

  329. Tony Smith says:

    So much for “Greenwash” !

    There could not be a clearer demonstration of “the tragedy of the commons”.

    The Government (or its spokesmen) lies, unambiguously, when it suggests that Ancient Woodland can be re-created, or that any real mitigation is possible.

    This sets an appalling precedent, which will be cited by other operators, and proves the reluctance of the Environment Agency to get in the way of “business”.

  330. Tony Smith says:

    So much for “Greenwash” !

    This government knows exactly what it’s doing; it has broken its promise. There could not be a clearer illustration of “the tragedy of the commons”.

    It lies, unambiguously, when it, or its spokesperson(s), suggests that Ancient Woodland can be re-created, or that any genuine mitigation is possible.

    This sets an appaling precedent, which will now be cited by other operators, and demonstrates the disgraceful reluctance of the Environment Agency to get in the way of “Business”.

  331. Jan says:

    Disgraceful display of greed with a double helping of pressure from business. Sadly money talks.
    Where Eric Pickles is concerned ‘greed’ is a word he clearly lives by both personally and professionally.

  332. Tricia Campbell says:

    I am totally and utterly devastated – when will the politicians start thinking about the future for our children and grandchildren and trying to keep the ‘Great’ in Great Britain, a once wonderful and green land, rather than short term growth and jobs

  333. Shubashnee Story says:

    It is really good to hear that people are starting to belive that we are the power and WE can change anything. We need to change how we are governed, not just 2 parties with self interest agendas, but where the people have a voice and can make a difference. Especially, when it comes to saving and protecting our environment.

  334. Jane Allport says:

    This Government will be remembered by history as a self serving and stupidly careless organism

  335. edithkl says:

    Unfortunately, all political parties and large business interests all over the world have seized on the buzzwords “mitigation” and “adaptation” as some sort of carte blanche to cause damage in one place but “re-place” or re-create” what has been destroyed in a different location.

    I am glad that people are beginning to see through this weasel word “mitigation”. The best definition of what it is supposed to mean that I have seen outside international law, appears on the website of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers under the topic “MAG” – “Mitigation, Adaptation and Geo-Engineering”.

    They state plainly that current efforts to curb GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions are not going to be enough, which is why they have proposals about Geo-Engineering (which I will ignore for the moment, personally I think these are a desperate last stand that will not work either). They define “Mitigation” as:

    “the on-going reduction of GHG emissions from all sectors of society, such as energy production, transportation, the built environment and so on. It will remain the centrepiece of any climate change policy.”

    ON-GOING REDUCTION, full-stop. Nothing about an increase due to a new housing estate / quarry / bit of infrastructure /etc. and then some new planting to “offset” this increase.

    This scientific and correct definition echoes the words of the Law in the UN Conventions. The original Convention on Climate Change for instance, at Article 3.3, says “The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects.”

    This is very plain English – and it does NOT mean “offset” the Causes of climate change. It say “anticipate, prevent or minimize” the Causes of climate change. Because climate change will occur anyway, it will have adverse Effects and it is these which should be mitigated, after everything possible has been done to “anticipate, prevent or minimize” the Causes of these Effects.

    (Has Mr Pickles heard of Cause and Effect by the way?)

    A good example of a Cause would be replacing a wood with a quarry. Although a minor Cause, the cumulative Effect of lots of minor Causes is dramatic. Therefore, all minor Causes must be anticipated, prevented or minimised. In order to mitigate the Effects, which are going to be ghastly.

    What needs to happen next, is that someone needs to take the UK government to court over this Oaken Wood decision. An individual can sue, or a group. The best group would be the group of environmental lawyers called Client Earth – but they have a lot on their plate. Any similar wrong decision would do (and there are plenty).

    It does not matter whether Governments are actually ignorant of the law, or are feigning ignorance. The result is the same – international environmental law is being broken, and this has to stop. One or two rogue states have not signed various UN Conventions on the environment – but the UK is not one of these. All UK governments have forgotten this, it seems. Or, they think you can sign and than carry on as usual.

    • Patrick Drury says:

      Pickles does not understand cause and effect; who else would propose allowing parking on double yellow lines to help small high street shops and businesses. Everyone else knows it the huge supermarket chains that Pickles allows to be built that is destroying local businesses.

      Another cause and effect here would be the anarchy that would ensue from allowing “15 minutes”

  336. Steve says:

    My partner Jenny said Pickles very likely has one eye on the HS2 ancient woodland problem – which would become even more sticky for the government if he preserved Oaken Wood. Gillian’s comment ( above) also points this up.
    So the underlying attitude of this govt is perfectly clear and the pressures on the environment are going to increase, not decrease.
    Will the conservation issue be prominent at the next election? Will it have enough vote deciding power to cause a change in thinking at the top?
    Back to the campaigning grindstone, then. Round and round in ****ng circles.

  337. Jan White says:

    These comments need to be seen by Pickles and Cameron – can they be sent to a major newspaper? Also I urge Woodland Trust to use the incredible power of 38 Degrees to keep this issue open. 38 Degrees gives us hope that people power can actually do something against the politicians that we elected to supposedly make good decisions for us.

  338. Eve Murphy says:

    my dear nikki we can not give up just yet,why not get in touch with 38 degrees and ask them for help i’m always signing petitons for them.i see this is not out in the media I wonder why? 38 degress 02079706023 i’m not sure of their email address.let us no how you get on good is your baby? what did you have?

  339. Carole Keegan says:

    Total unmitigated disgust at this decision. Very sad.

  340. Michael Karpaty says:

    So sad. I felt quite emotional when I heard the news. I don’t like talking politics but it reminded me of the Tory party conference I went to demonstrate against in the early 80’s. I wore a badge that said the upper crust are just a lot of crumbs sticking together. I feel that has always been the case. What will be threatening our ancient woodlands next. How much land reclamation will be required to perform the so called “Fracking” debacle?

  341. Michael Karpaty says:

    I felt quite emotional when I heard this news. I don’t like talking politics but this reminded me of when I went to demonstrate against the Tory’s at the Brighton Tory Conference in about 1980. I wore a badge that said the upper crust are a lot of crumbs sticking together. I think that has always applied. What will be the next threat to the ancient woodlands, I wonder how much land will be required to perform so called “fracking” fiasco that it on our horizon?

  342. Gillian Thacker says:

    Very sad, again money talks. How can we fight against HS2 now?!

  343. Fiona, Just thinking the same thing re: occupation (in between fuming) I do not live in the UK but care passionately for it and especially the natural places . I have friends in England who care equally and have been talking to them today about active physical protest. If there were enough people to show up~ need to get the word out though to other environmental organizations via social media like Facebook and Twitter as well as emailing people just to let them know this is happening. I just think not enough people know about this and many would care and be active if they knew.

    • Fiona says:

      yes, this needs publicising more widely and I’ll do what I can. There are lots of comments expressing outrage but as Kim says, where is the ‘fight back’? There a number of queries about the possibility of further legal action – is anyone reading this who has knowledge of the legal system and knows what can be done?? How do we co-cordinate?

      Has the Woodland Trust really just given up on this now?

      • Nikki Williams says:

        Fiona, It is quite upsetting after 2 1/2 years of fighting, being the organisation that actually brought this case to public inquiry through our campaigning work when everyone else was struggling, investing both high levels of resources and finances into the fight by following the planning process and taking this case all the way – as far as it could go to be accused of ‘giving up’. The inspectors report is very clear of the decision and the Secretary of State has signed this off. Our professional advisors clearly advise:
        The only course of action available to oppose a planning decision made by the Secretary of State is to challenge it in the high court. Such a challenge would come under Section 288 of The Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Any interested party involved in the original inquiry can make this challenge. The grounds of challenging under this particular section of the act are very specific, essentially the basis of the challenge would need to be that the Secretary of State has not taken adequate steps to reach his decision and that his decision is not reasoned.

        We do not believe there are grounds to challenge on this basis. We believe that the Planning Inspector’s report is considered and that the Secretary of State’s decision is sound (as in unchallengable within the remitt).

        Our issue lies with the planning system that makes a decision to destroy ancient woodland sound. This is what we are currently building a campaign around that will launch soon.

        • Fiona says:

          Nikki, I do sincerely apologise for my tactless phrasing (and ignorance, I’ve come to this late). I’ve done almost nothing and you’ve done so much. It is just hard to believe that there is nothing more that can be done via the legal process.

          • Nikki Williams says:

            It is a very emotional subject and upsetting when you run to the end of the course and still the loophole remains that puts our ancient woods under such risk. We will continue to campaign & Oaken will never ‘die’ in our hearts and minds at least, as we will always talk about its loss as the tipping point for when we were proven correct, that the system was broken for our rarest habitats. A new campaign around this will launch soon. And thank you for your kind response.

          • Andy White says:

            Hi Fiona,

            The WT has indeed given up. Sorry Nikki but your ‘Oaken wood will never die in our hearts’, just doesn’t cut it. The fact is that your hands are tied by your job description which limits you to being nice and polite. You aren’t allowed to approach 38* or even suggest it. What is required is OCCUPATION. There are no experts in this and its the loudest voice we have, public opinion and peaceful protest. If Ghandi could claim back a sub-continent from an Empire we can claim back Oaken wood. The legal process has been exhausted. The legal process is Gallagher/Pickles.

            Do you realize that the next step in the legal process would be an appeal based on section 288 of the planning act.? In order to do this you must show that the sec of state is ‘unreasonable’ …. Here is the relevant blurb….”Section 288 applications must consider whether all relevant matters were considered at the inquiry, whether all proper procedures have been followed or whether the decision was Wednesbury unreasonable i.e. whether the decision is so unreasonable that no reasonable person acting reasonably could have made it.”

            DO YOU SEE WHAT WE ARE UP AGAINST?? The argument is so twisted and tautological its like saying that a fly is a flying thing that flies. Any definition of terms that uses the same term in its definition can be argued out of court. All that’s left is you and me and anyone who is prepared to risk being uncomfortable in order to remain square with themselves. OCCUPY THE WOOD.

          • Yes, Occupying Oaken Wood is probably the only way. If people are feeling so depressed and impotent in the face of power and greed, at least they can do something that will get the media to take notice and gain nationwide support. Petitions and peaceful protest do often work. Giving up achieves nothing. The powers-that-be want us to give up!

          • Matt Derrington says:

            Yup. And if everyone everywhere protects what is worth protecting, whether it be a priceless wood, or a right, then the game is over for the ‘likes’ of Pickles and the nefarious organisations behind them. It is that simple. You have the numbers people. They have only craven snarling to try to bluff you.

          • Absolutely, Matt. It’s time to stand up and be counted. If there’s still the ghost of a chance to save Oaken Wood and set a precedent for saving other such ancient woodlands, then we must not give up. We will have let the bullies in the playground win. We know that businessmen only care about profit and have no empathy. 38 degrees petition, anyone?

      • Julie Taylor says:

        I agree that there should be some kind of response to this decision. I cannot believe this decision is the end of the line.

        I would certainly be keen to support any further action in any way I could as I feel this decision is the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ – we must see this as a single battle in an ongoing war to protect what is left of our ancient woodland or indeed to challenge any other manifestations of environmental destruction done in the name of “progress”.

        I am wondering if there are other parliamentary actions that we might make use of, at least initially, to keep the hope alive for Oaken Wood whilst hopefully other legal action can be instigated.

        Can someone from the area around Oaken Wood talk to their MP? I am guessing this is Helen Grant, Maidstone and The Weald. The environment is listed as one of her interests.

        Is there any chance of putting together a Public Parliamentary Petition?
        This has to be presented in Parliament by the MP. I have included the link so you can see what this involves. Basically it is a petition from people living in a given area who have been affected by a decision and asking Parliament to take a given action on their behalf. In the past I have known the same petition on a given issue be delivered to Parliament from many MPs across the country – that was quite impressive. But we would need a friendly MP to help us organise this – and it would help if they are directly connected to this issue.

        Would the MP put forward an Early Day Motion and we could all ask our MPs to sign it?
        This would show the strength of feeling across the country on this issue. It can lead to a debate in Parliament but doesn’t often. But EDMs are often covered by the media and can help gain further public support.

        Can we ask the Communities and Local Government Select Committee to look again at the planning loopholes which still evidently seriously endanger our last remnants of ancient woodlands?

        … just some ideas, anyway.

        … or failing this could we all just take our chainsaws around to Eric’s house??!! 🙂

        • Nikki Williams says:

          Hi Julie
          The Woodland Trust is now developing a campaign around the loopholes as Oaken really is the tipping point.
          Thanks for your comments

          • Andy White says:

            Could you please say what the loopholes are (in a nut shell). I don’t understand.

          • Kaye Brennan says:

            Andy, there’s more about this in our previous posts about the NPPF: There remains a caveat, or loophole, in the protection given to ancient woodland as an irreplaceable habitat in the NPPF which states these habitats should be protected, unless… > “planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss”. In Oaken’s case the benefits of the additional ragstone produced by the proposed quarry extension was determined to outweigh the benefits of the wood.

  344. Fiona says:

    If the woods are occupied it will make it harder to destroy them. If there are enough people who care sufficiently we could take action rather than just letting the destruction take place. Has anyone got experience of this sort of action and how to go about organising it sot that it is effective?

    • Andy White says:

      Response to Kaye, two paras above. So, the loophole is,’ You absolutley positively cannot cut down the wood…..unless you want to’. Well, we’ll have fun closing that one won’t we…? Fertile ground for the exercise of learned judisprudence methinks, what?

  345. James Rea FLS. says:

    Just what do Government not understand? That ancient Woodland, which has taken hundreds and hundreds of years to get to just that status of ‘ancient woodland’, the amazing climax vegetation that is home to so many species and can never, ever be replaced, no matter how much ‘new planting’ is undertaken.
    Once again, local people and concerned environmentalists and conservationists voice and potential votes mean absolutely nothing!.
    Well, Pickles’ ruling has lost another Conservative vote from me, and I wonder how many more thousands as well!!

  346. Chris&Jacqui says:

    Once again the politicians have shown themselves up to be shallow, hollow and devoid of understanding. They make sweeping statements and promises of protection but fail to protect anything except business interests. They are a disgrace!

  347. I agree totally with most of the comments. Its hard to believe isn`t it? Its another nail in the polictical coffins. 1 thing follows another with the constant disregard and lsck of empathy for our woods with their animal and birds etc. On your own head be it Mr Pickles – some of us believe in a Higher Justice [which is a good thing!} In my area the Wind Farmers are hoping to blight 1 of the most beautiful coastal waters, pathways for bird migrations of millions of birds; home to dolphins for decades; and then there is the view. Swanage will lose holiday trade at a time when every penny is vital. A N D they all want a raise in their pocket money!!!
    What will happen when nobody votes in 2015??

  348. richard says:

    Workers chop down trees, flatten and trample the earth, dig up deep into the soul of the world to extract raw materials, minerals, metals, fuel and timber. And that is LABOUR
    They smash, grind, mix, smelt, cut, shape, craft and manufacture to create the commodities, raw materials and products, that creates the wealth. And that is LABOUR.
    The rich buy and sell commodities, raw materials, and products, sucking, eating, smoking, drinking, buying land consuming smothering the planet. Profit and greed creating vast nests of money smothering the almost baron planet, but who cares, there is no such thing as global warming. NIMBYS! And that is CONSERVATIVE.
    Just one other point unrelated!
    If the top 10% of the population or so own around 60% of the wealth, how comes a tiny fluctuation in the 12% or so, of the wealth owned by the 80% of the population, causes a meltdown, so much so! as to force the 80% of the population to pay back the money that the top 10% lost. And the bottom 80% will have to work longer and harder so support and subsidise the top 10%.
    A little boy asked his mum why some people were rich but most people were poor!
    She said in the beginning we all lived in harmony and friendship, then one day there was these men
    and they had big sticks and they said to everyone else -!

  349. Matt says:

    The main failure of modern governance is a capitalist model based on endless supply of natural resources. Capitalism works well when natural resources are valued correctly. They are not. Pickles will be long dead when his actions today will impact the society of future generations, but why should he care? He will have met his performance targets for the month. Fortunately this is not about saving the planet. The planet as an ecosystem already recognises it has an out of control virus and is moving to a condition to eradicate that virus or radically reduce its growth. As viruses go, the human race is a pretty stupid one, and Mr Pickles represents the worst of this disease.

  350. Robert Somogyi says:

    Sad but no longer surprised by anything coming from this “greenest government ever”.
    Destroy irreplaceable woodlands, cut back sustainable energy targets, give the go-ahead to fracking, the list could go on…
    Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne, Mr Pickles – history will judge you, though sadly too late to undo the damage you have wrought !

  351. Ana Tivist says:

    Could we create a Memorial to all the woods we lose due to government incompetence? It could be virtual (internet) or real (sculpted in storm damaged ancient oak, for example). The memorial could list each wood with a very emotive piece along side, e.g., “The death of this wood was sanctioned by Eric Pickles”. (No Honourable title for Mr Pickles as he is definitely not acting in honour of his Government’s pledges to the environment). I’m sure our publicity-loving politicians would appreciate the PR value of such accolades.

  352. Tracey says:

    I voted for this shambles of a government because they promised to protect the environment. I am saddened but not surprised that yet again they have failed to live up to their promises. They are a toothless, useless waste of a vote & a sorry excuse for a so called ecological government. Another huge loss of important habitat, profit before protection. Shame on you all, you are not worth the paper I voted on, I just hope that we can go on to save future habitats from the profiteers.

  353. elizabeth tully says:

    one day the powers to be will realise what the purpose of trees are to us, that they clean the poisonous air for us to live, but then it will be too late.

  354. carolyn says:

    This government is despicable it have absolutely no regard at all for nature – if ancient woodland can not be protected from destruction what hope is there for any of Britain’s wonderful wildlife ? I wonder if we will ever have a government in power that has the ethical integrity neccessary to protect the natural environment. I wish I had enough money to send every conservative MP a copy of Tony Juniper’s brilliant book ‘What has nature ever done for us?’ perhaps after reading it they would realise not only do humans have a moral resposibility to protect the natural world but that we can’t survive without it.

    • Vicky says:

      Well said Carolyn; and not only send every MP Tony Juniper’s book, but send them on a course to Schumacher College in Devon to teach them to think outside their tiny little boxes, about the the consequences of their actions in their destructive short-term pursuit of money.

    • tommy232013 says:

      Well said Carolyn. Not only send them Tony Juniper’s book, but also send them on a course to Schumacher College, Devon to teach them to think outside their tiny little boxes about the importance of the natural world, to think about the consequences of their actions in the short-term pursuit of profit. It is beyond me how a beautiful, precious ancient woodland can be destroyed for a quarry – nothing short of criminal.

  355. Jill says:

    Tragic news. Is there more that could be done? The loss of beautiful Oaken Wood is too terrible to contemplate.

  356. Jay says:

    WHY HAS HE DONE THIS – My heart has blackened my fingers joining it, my greenfingers disappearing, what is the point of being passionate about wildlife, environment, and all the pleasures they give etc when one mans opinion supercedes everybody else’s.

    Picnics in the park are going to die along with our rarest creatures. Ancient woods cannot be rebuit. what is wrong with him! I’m so outraged I cant think straight, my heart goes out to all that is about to be destroyed & they know not what is about to happen to them. Sad so very sad.

    The cancer continues to grow on our precious land AND IT does have a cure, sadly the medicine is not working on Eric Pickles he obviously does not like the countryside or what it entails or what pleasure it gives all for free!



  357. I have always voted Conservative until the last few years when I realised that one political party is the same as another. The only time politians speak the truth is when their mouth is not moving.
    I am upset as I know this is only the beginning.

  358. Mary says:

    I am shocked but sadly not surprised to hear this news. The Government have left a wording loophole in their planning verbiage – it is ‘exceptional circumstances’. It would appear that all planning rules are sacrosanct until these mysterious and undefined circumstances are claimed. So beware these circumstances which alone stand between a yes and a no to planning applications. Who decides what these are – well ultimately Eric Pickles, so perhaps he would like to give us his definition of the phrase. In Bedfordshire we are fighting large developments on the Green Belt and our local authority is claiming exceptional circumstances allow them to develop this land – these in essence are the need for money to build the roads this Government is so keen to use as a way of buying us out of the current crisis.

    Although we must support the fight to protect Ancient Woodlands and not so ancient woodlands too, we may have to ultimately fight for the removal of woolly words such as ‘exceptional circumstances’ which are leaving a hole the size of the QE2 in the supposedly strengthened protection encased in our new planning laws.

    I would like to say RIP Oaken Woods but we should not let this issue rest in peace as this is the thin end of a very large wedge.

  359. S M Short says:

    Quite aside from opposing this on legal and campaigning grounds, it would also be useful to ensure the ‘Holiday homes’ don’t succeed as a viable business plan either.
    The only value present in this entire ‘Consideration;’ is that of money.
    If the destruction of woodland renders a profit then it will continue. If not, it will cease to be supported by those in office.

  360. Hilary Moore says:

    What a despicable act but what can you expect from a party that starts with a CON!!

  361. Brian Groves says:

    Can we expect anything different with this government, they never listen to the the people who know how precious our countryside and wildlife is, and the pleasure it gives to hundreds of thousands of people, no they favour the lobyists for big business like the U turns on Tobacco and Alcohol, well they need contributions for their next election. well you’ve lost my vote.
    I agree with Lynda Pasquire Appeal to the European Union it certainly is worth a try.

  362. Peter Goodwin says:

    The sooner we get rid of this uncaring coalition government then we can only be better off . This Conservative/Liberal Democrat bunch of greed driven hypocrites will not stop until they have succeeded in destroying this country and all that it stands for. For them nothing is greater than the power of money.

    • Eric says:

      Do you seriously think that any politicians would be any better, or different?

      • Nigel B. says:

        I am reading through all these comments as I have only just received an email about Oaken Wood. I am horrified by it but I do worry about your comment, Eric. Perhaps we need to try and make them different in some way, even though I know that compromises have to be made.

  363. Mike Richardson says:

    RIP Oaken Wood, You will be remembered in MAY 2015.

  364. pauline says:

    Did you really think this Govn.would keep it’s promises !!

  365. Kerri & Chris Simpson says:

    This is just devastating news, I cannot believe it. Is there nothing more we can do? can we not start a government petition to get it debated and repealed? Or even start a Facebook campaign? We will still support all campaigns to stop this wanton destruction just wish there was more we could do, feeling rather helpless

  366. Patricia Pickering says:

    This ancient woodland has taken hundreds of years to grow and become the very special habitat that it is, a living organism almost, and yet it is to be destroyed. A terrible decision. The PRESENT British government has lost any green credentials it might have had.

  367. Janet Evans says:

    Trees are the lungs of the world we need them. When they are all gone the world will end . A few sad decrepit individuals will sit on their own with suitcases full of money that they cannot spend.

  368. ingrid says:

    Devastated by this news but not in the least surprised. Everything this govt does is fuelled by corporate and private greed to ensure the wealthiest remain wealthy and all powerful at the expense of everything and everyone else, with an almighty dollop of media manipulation along the way to prevent the general populace from seeing what’s really going on. Sadly the other political parties are not far behind, with the exception of the Greens. Did anyone ever really believe this would be the greenest government ever? Really?

    I do believe in continuing to fight all this corruption to the bitter end but it also seems mostly pretty hopeless and doomed. RIP Oaken Wood, you are irreplaceable :’-(

  369. GN says:

    A ludicrous and shameful decision, no doubt based upon forecast monetary gains. The losses incurred by this judgement have obviously been discarded as worthless by our “Leaders”. This is a sad day due to another foolish decision by an uncaring and material driven government who obviously have no long term plans for future generations.

  370. Alice Nunn says:

    Unprintable ….. sick to the heart and TOTALLY disillusioned by this so called “greenest government ever”.
    Alice the Vicar

  371. Rose Guiot says:

    Very sad news. The ‘greenest Government ever’ simply cannot be trusted to care for our countryside, especially when ‘business interests’ want to destroy it for their own gain.

  372. Appeal to the European Union. It is worth a try. Ancient Woodlands are protected but generally landowners are allowed to do pretty much what they like in the UK. Anyone can raise a petition to the European Parliament. See

  373. Suzie C says:

    This is an appalling decision. I join with all those who ask whether there is anything that can still be done to save Oaken Wood, even at this late stage. While I don’t know this particular wood, I hate to think of any ancient woodland being so wantonly destroyed. I am also hugely concerned that a dangerous precedent has been set.

  374. Andrew Hearse says:

    A sad day for our future generations.

  375. Anna says:

    We are the least forested/wooded country in Europe. Humanity knows by now that an equilibrium must be maintained between living materials to sustain live.
    I am lost for trees……

  376. Gee M Gee says:

    What an A-hole. When is the next election its time this lot was booted out.

  377. Steve Harness says:

    This government is being exposed on a daily basis for what they are. Cameron said they would be the ‘greenest party ever’. This time, as usual it is the electorate who have been green.
    It has just been revealed that our electricity supply will be boosted by a rather expensive scheme (for us) to operate 8.5gw of ‘filthy’ diesel generators to supplement useless wind turbines. Now we find that ancient woodland means nothing to them and the destruction of Oaken Wood begins.
    The case for the ‘white elephant’ HS2 is falling apart and many ancient woodlands will be destroyed by this project.
    Cameron and his bunch are phoney. They represent the financial elite and they will continue with deceit to cover their tracks.

  378. Roger Parker says:

    Ultimately, such things are inevitable. George Orwell had it right; only his predictions of time were wrong……. 1984 was quite a long time ago, but corrupt Government, persuaded by developers’ money, will win every time, over the needs to protect the environment from being irretrievably destroyed. The “FUTURE” as far as they are concerned, is “what happens within THEIR lifetimes”. WE live on an island. Its’ size is finite. We cannot create more land, but we ARE creating more people. Increased population inevitably needs more space. Conflict over available resources is inevitable. Anyone read Malthus, recently?

  379. Margaret Palmer says:

    One day, it may not be in our generation, the government will wonder why our crops are so poor, why our insects and other life giving creatures have ceased to exist, why our oxygen level is so poor, why are our people always falling ill, why is this lush green land turning to dust, the crime goes on. Okay they are probably saying “Nah – rubbish, something will turn up, it’s not as bad as that” but wake up!!!! it is happening now what will it be like then, I perish the
    Margaret P

  380. Chris Cockel says:

    Last November, the Kingston Greenspace Volunteers planted 420 trees in Chessington as part of the Woodland Trust’s community planting project. The stupidity of condemning ancient woodland is brought home by the amount of effort that is taken trying to keep these vulnerable little trees alive during this hot July weather. I’ve visited the site three times this week with water, but the trees are barely hanging on. Ancient woodland is ancient because it has seen countless hot summers come and go, and still the trees survive, as do the many species associated with them. Imagine the collective effort involved and good tap water used, if the only trees we have are new plantings?
    Eric Pickles has definitely ‘lost the plot’, and the long-term damage and cost will out-weigh the short-term rewards for a few. Surely, Pickles must have his ‘hand in the till’, so to speak…

    • Nikki Williams says:

      Awesome work Chris – thank you for your comments too.

      • Richard Francis says:

        Chris – I agree – great work. The elephant in the room though – is community on a broader level has to care and better balance between the needs of community and commerce need to be built.
        With a debt-ridden government, and a nation still gripped in the jaws of economic stagnation – these decisions (especially in the S/East) will become more common.
        The lynchpin argument about bio-diversity isn’t cutting it for enough people.
        As a backdrop to Oaken Wood – on a much broader, wider global stage – are the concerns of many eminent and well-qualified scientists that a handful of agro-chem companies (e.g: Monsanto) are lowering bio-diversity – and seed diversity – on a level many thousands of times more serious than removing the likes of Oaken Wood.
        Despite this being a potential crisis in the making for 7.2bn people – no one much cares. Why should they? Food must still be relatively cheap – we waste enough of it in the UK – so why bother?
        Now – I mention this purely as you never get traction on anything – unless you get mass reaction. How do you get mass reaction? Identify a mass problem!
        It could easily be the case that soon – Oaken Wood – and many like them – we will be more valuable to adapt as ancient/modern food production permaculture sites than they would be as quarries (or whatever else).
        I can easily see a form of “dig for victory” coming back a lot sooner than we think.
        It therefore begs the question – are WT doing enough lateral thinking here to protect these sites – or just pushing the “this is a terrible loss” message – which is not hitting enough people hard enough to make sufficient difference?

        • Andy White says:

          I agree, the ‘this is a terrible loss’ message concedes defeat. WE ARE PLAYING INTO THE HANDS OF THE DEVELOPERS! You can just see them patting WT on the back and reaching for a hanky. Mourning loss of diversity and amenity is joining them in their material arguement. The lateral thinking required is this.. You can’t cut down the wood because it is sacred we cant let you do it any more than we would stand idly by and watch someone slit their own throat.

  381. Hello, Since this is the first I have heard of this particular issue I do not have all the facts but could not help but wonder (after reading that it was just 6000 people who made their objections known ) if the fight for this particular wood had been made a campaign via the organization 38 Degrees , it might have gotten far more wide-spread attention and that might have made a difference in the outcome. I know there have been quite a few very successful outcomes via this platform ~ word gets around on the internet really quickly via social media . I just read of a recent campaign to save the closure of a local media museum in Bradford. It took just one angry man who set up a petition on the website at 38 degrees and within 24 hrs he already had 10.000 signatures from irate and outraged like- minded people.and within just a short space the numbers swelled to 36,000 ! As a result , the museum will not be closed . This is just one example and anyone can set up a petition there ~ it only takes two mins. I am not a U.K citizen but have a deep love for the country and all my ancestors came from there. I try to keep a close eye on what is happening with the environment there and cannot tell you how hearing the news of this precious woodland has sickened me to the core. What sort of quarry will be set up here? Are there any health related issues that could be raised over the building or operation of it? It is very frustrating not having a voice and would personally do more if I could ,but most of the time unless a world heritage site is in danger then anyone not a resident has no say. Is this absolutely the last word on this wood? No further appeals or possible way to stop it ? if there is a chance then maybe raising a petition on 38 Degrees would be a good idea? ! I would bet that Mr Pickles had already made up his mind which way this would unfold long before the first objection was raised. He should be roasted on a spit.

    • Nikki Williams says:

      Hi Valkrye
      The 6,000 people are those that helped us tell Pickles that this decision needed to go to public inquiry – a huge achievement by them as otherwise it would have been waved through at county level. But once stuck in the planning system we face a poor, loop hole ridden process that favours economics over environment. I only hope that the legacy of Oaken Wood will be that more people will not wait for the axe to fall in future, but will join the fight earlier on.

      • Hello Nikki, Thank you for replying and explaining a bit about the loopholes that exist but knowing this , what can be done to insure these are closed off in future. How does one go about addressing such things there? If there are such huge loopholes then this certainly does not bode well for any future issues of the same or similar nature. I read up a little on what they are quarrying ~ Kentish ragstone which apparently is rare, but wonder what use it is required for and how necessary it is to building there?

    • Marion Pope says:

      I certainly think some publicity should be given to the failure of the National Planning Policy Framework. Whether this might be through 38 degrees or by appeal to the European Union I am not sure. Isn’t there a government website where we might lobby for a parliamentary debate? We would need to garner over 100,000 signatories for it to work.

  382. Steve says:

    Is there any more that can be done – any further legal steps, appeal against Pickles’ horrendous decision? I don’t have the right expertise – but someone must know?
    If there is some further possibility of getting this decision reversed, then there would be a focus for all of us to work on, to change not just this decision but the precedent.
    If there’s no such possibility and Oaken Wood is truly going to be destroyed and lost forever along with all the life that inhabits it, then what do we do – work for political change at the next election? Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets, please.

  383. Karin says:

    This is terribly sad news. I do genuinely wonder what the attitude of UKIP would be to such schemes. It is pretty obvious from recent decisions and moves that the current government are running scared. No amount of taking the moral high ground would dissuade them from their jobs, jobs, jobs mantra but perhaps a spell out of government might. Maybe too late for this wood (Swampy where are you) but not for others.

  384. Howard Darkin says:

    To protect a finite commodity you need infinite wisdom. That is not beyond human ability, as has been demonstrate throughout history. Unfortunately Mr Pickles brain does not measure up to his girth. What hope is there from a, government which employs such a person??

  385. Jane Lingham says:

    Once an ancient wood is destroyed it can NEVER be replaced.

  386. Matt Guntrip says:

    A bad decision and a sad one for the natural environment on which we all depend; something this administration is going to realise, too late.

  387. Donald Rugman says:

    I am not surprised,,just disappointed; Tory dogma rules and follows the pursuit of money without regard to anyone or anything.

  388. Andy Rutherford says:

    A very very bad decision, and a very very sad day. RIP England’s green and pleasant land.

    • Alan Mulvey says:

      I would like to know how much he took as an incentive to make that decision, as he never had a mandate to do anything like this, why did WE not get a vote. I was under the impression that public ownership means WE the majority, not the few

  389. I am appalled by this decision. It is yet further evidence of this government’s disregard for the natural environment. If it does not make money it is of no value. Future generations will deplore decisions like this which are irreversible.

  390. ClareC says:

    So sad and short sighted. Actions speak louder than words; whilst the Coalition claimed it was going to be the Greenest Government ever, that clearly isn’t going to be the case. “By their actions, you will know them …” AONBs and SSSIs may exist but they are no safeguard when the Government decides that the environment is impeding economic progress. The A21 in Kent will, I’m sure, be dualled at the expense of AONB listed ancient woodland, too. Well done, Woodland Trust for campaigning against the destruction of these ancient sites and for realising we are Stewards of this Earth who shouldn’t be destroying it for our societies’ gain.

  391. Clare Kiose says:

    The sad truth is that habitats in this country and the world over are in the hands of a few, who put prosperity before their survival. We do have a voice, and though this time it has not be heard, we must continue to support the amazing work of the Woodlan Trust and other organisations who have the conviction to never give up. I hope that people in the UK use their right to vote to make a change for the better, and who knows, maybe one day we will truly have a conscientious government.

  392. Sarah says:

    I agree and my vote will definitely be put to good use (I hope) elsewhere come next election. I joined the Oakenwood campaign after hopelessly watching – and continuing to endure – many peaceful spaces around my area in Cornwall, being consumed by concrete and greed. My interests then expanded to other parts of the country suffering the same fate and I was really drawn to Oakenwood. I am gutted that our efforts and voices have not been counted, but after the results of the efforts people from my local community and I put in to try and stop the planners agreeing to building on our beauty spots (including a march through our town with our horses, dogs and children!), I am far from surprised at the outcome. ‘They paved paradise…’ – Joni Mitchell.

  393. Paul Brooks says:

    A very worrying result. It says our government continues to fall for dubious business arguments over our duty to preserve our environment for future generations. Short term profit is still alive and destroying real value…

  394. Gary Martin says:

    I wonder if Mr. Pickles has ever set foot in any woodland to walk his dog or let his children play or even grand children play, because how can somebody allow such a disaster happen to any woodland? doesn’t matter where it is, there is plenty of other sites around the uk that can easily be developed that wont destroy our uk natural heritage for so called housing expansion

    • george jeffrey says:

      Ha – Pickles – walk – have you seen the geezer ???? Perhaps we can preserve enough wood for a coffin for him !!?

  395. James Brown says:

    This is a truly sad day, but not just for Oaken Wood. How can it be that even in the face of overwhelming scientific, moral and ethical positions that the economic position (i.e.greed) always wins? We all loose but very few gain from this ruling.

    Unfortunately this is just one of a catalogue of terrible planning decisions in the South-East. This once-beautiful region is truly being despoiled, one housing estate/industrial installation/quarry/intensive mega-farm/airport extension at a time, and as we all know, there is only so long one can chip away at something until it’s all gone. I have not yet lost hope for the region, but with this announcement little remains for everywhere outside the South Downs National Park.

    • william says:

      so true

    • Nikki Williams says:

      This is why the Woodland Trust have been deeply involved in objecting to the A21 as well (See our blog from last week when the Department for Transport refused to commit to the mitigation it had proposed). The attacks on ancient woodland in the South East is simply relentless!

  396. Vicky says:

    This government is like a bulldozer. The bulldozer is out of control and is destroying everything that is precious in it’s path. Does this country have a Green party with a voice? Where are they? I don’t hear them speak.

  397. Barbara Paris says:

    Words fail me. Yet again, and again, and again, big business wins and promises are broken. How many times will we trust what is said only to be let down.

  398. Joanne says:

    I don’t normally use bad language, but on this occasion Erik Pickles you are a ****!
    This wood is older than any of us. How dare you even think that you can destroy our habitat in this country whist telling the rest of the world how they should be behaving!

  399. Geoff Vince says:

    We cannot convince governments of any colour of the desperate need to conserve our environment. If money does not shout louder power or politics will! Our response must be with Sue Thorne; don’t vote for Cameron and his ilk again,

  400. Emma says:

    This devastates me. As a regular user of this beautiful wood I feel such a deep sense of loss. Yet again a corrupt government votes in favour of the big money giants. How well lined was Mr Pickles pocket I wonder? 😦

  401. Wendy says:

    Terrible news. Just terrible.

  402. william says:

    If we did not allow so many people to enter this country we would not need to destroy ancient woodland for housing. Where are we going to be in many years time, when our great grandchildren grow up in concrete jungles and never get to see green fields and woodland except on old film footage?

    • Julia Lafene says:

      DONT BLAME IMMIGRANTS FOR THIS!! It’s so divisive. there are lots of other reasons for the shortage of housing e.g. so many families splitting up and needing separate housing, individualism – people want a huge house on their own. Our love of having a house and garden instead of an apartment is also a factor. There are plenty of places where building can be carried out – brown field sites which could be improved by housing. any way this wood is not being destroyed for housing but quarrying. It is more important to educate people about what is happening and to show them that jobs can be dreated without destroying the environment.

      • Karin says:

        “This wood is not being destroyed for housing but for quarrying”. What would you imagine the stone is going to be used for? A giant rockery? No, it will be for housing and roads for the rising number of people surely.

      • Ken-Veteran says:

        Quite right Julia! We all know where the blame is. I have already left the Libdems
        & will be an independant from now on- isnt that the answer?

  403. I literally cannot believe this… What is wrong with this country? How can destroying an Ancient woodland ever make sense when it’s for a small supply of a short-term commodity…

  404. steve acton says:

    Dear Nikki

    Is there any further step in the legal process – any possibility of appeal against this horrendous decision?

    Regards, Steve Acton

    Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2013 16:30:28 +0000 To:

    • Nikki Williams says:

      Hi Steve
      We took this fight as far as we could in the planing process so sadly, Oaken is now destined for destruction. But we have every intention of fighting hard to keep the spirit of Oaken alive. We will use it as an example at every opportunity to show how this Government is failing to protect our ancient woodland and why we need that loop hole closing – so developers cannot keep doing this! The legacy of Oaken will never go away for us.

  405. Unfortunately, all political parties and large business interests all over the world have seized on the buzzwords “mitigation” and “adaptation” as some sort of carte blanche to cause damage in one place but “re-place” or re-create” what has been destroyed in a different location.

    I am glad that people are beginning to see through this weasel word “mitigation”. The best definition of what it is supposed to mean that I have seen outside international law, appears on the website of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers under the topic “MAG” – “Mitigation, Adaptation and Geo-Engineering”.

    They state plainly that current efforts to curb GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions are not going to be enough, which is why they have proposals about Geo-Engineering (which I will ignore for the moment, personally I think these are a desperate last stand that will not work either). They define “Mitigation” as:

    “the on-going reduction of GHG emissions from all sectors of society, such as energy production, transportation, the built environment and so on. It will remain the centrepiece of any climate change policy.”

    ON-GOING REDUCTION, full-stop. Nothing about an increase due to a new housing estate / quarry / bit of infrastructure /etc. and then some new planting to “offset” this increase.

    This scientific and correct definition echoes the words of the Law in the UN Conventions. The original Convention on Climate Change for instance, at Article 3.3, says “The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects.”

    This is very plain English – and it does NOT mean “offset” the Causes of climate change. It say “anticipate, prevent or minimize” the Causes of climate change. Because climate change will occur anyway, it will have adverse Effects and it is these which should be mitigated, after everything possible has been done to “anticipate, prevent or minimize” the Causes of these Effects.

    (Has Mr Pickles heard of Cause and Effect by the way?)

    A good example of a Cause would be replacing a wood with a quarry. Although a minor Cause, the cumulative Effect of lots of minor Causes is dramatic. Therefore, all minor Causes must be anticipated, prevented or minimised. In order to mitigate the Effects, which are going to be ghastly.

    What needs to happen next, is that someone needs to take the UK government to court over this Oaken Wood decision. An individual can sue, or a group. The best group would be the group of environmental lawyers called Client Earth – but they have a lot on their plate. Any similar wrong decision would do (and there are plenty).

    It does not matter whether Governments are actually ignorant of the law, or are feigning ignorance. The result is the same – international environmental law is being broken, and this has to stop. One or two rogue states have not signed various UN Conventions on the environment – but the UK is not one of these. All UK governments have forgotten this, it seems. Or think you can sign, and than carry on as usual.

  406. sue thorne says:

    I think its all been said in previous posts but yet again the so called “Greenest Government Ever” has let not only us but future generations down over this and countless other environmental matters in just a few short years. I shall never ever vote for Cameron and his ilk again.

  407. Jan White says:

    Somebody voted for this ‘greenest Government ever’ – we need to show them that we are not willing to vote for them again. It’s clear to me that this Government is in fact ‘the Government that does not listen’. We must not let this continue – no ancient woodland is safe now.

  408. Ash says:

    This is heart-breaking news! Oaken Wood may only be 32 hectares but its demise might be an example of our country’s environmental future.

    The attitudes of those in positions of authority & I don’t just mean the current set of politicians from all parties, needs to change dramatically if Oaken Wood’s example is not to be repeated across the country. HS2 is just one example of the future where there are possibly 67 ancient woodlands under threat of getting in the way of a railway line.

    If we put the well-being of the landscape first instead of quick-fix, short-lived job creation schemes then perhaps there will be a future for our country & its people.

  409. Jacquie Cox says:

    While I don’t know it for a fact, it is highly likely that this company poised to destroy Oaken Wood spent a lot of time and energy (perhaps even money?), lobbying the appropriate government officials in order to get the outcome they desired. They can afford to take ‘civil servants’ – now there’s a misnomer if ever I wrote one – ‘to lunch’ in order to extol the virtues of what they are doing for jobs and the economy. Lobbying, as we know, is not illegal or unlawful. Environmental orgs need to get better at lobbying … they need to get off their high horses and get down in the mud where the other pigs are. High-brow principles are no use if all you are is an impotent paper tiger.

    Sadly, a similar thing happened near Manchester recently where Manchester Council decided it was renovating one of its parks and proceeded to remove hundreds of trees in spite of protest by local citizens. They brought in the police to protect the felling contractors from the peaceful protest that was going on. Something is seriously wrong with that picture! The powers-that-be will do what they want in spite of the citizens. Their vested interest is much stronger than the protest we make at our environment being destroyed to fill their coffers and pad out their pensions. It is time to remind them who elected them to serve on our behalf, who pays their wages, and who can put them out of a job.

    Why do we in this great country take everything lying down? Where is our citizens rebellion? Our British Spring? Anyone want to take up residence in Oaken Wood with me? Or how about a protest outside Westminster with placards of Mr Pickles stuffing trees in his er face, that reads “Pickles … gobble, gobble, gobbling up our green future!”. Can you tell I am not feeling kindly towards this man?

  410. Martin Rudland says:

    This decision is outrageous. People do not know. As Catherine has asked:
    “Why is this not bigger news? Does this really have to be the end? I wonder, with a huge PR machine behind it showing public support, can we not reverse or delay this decision?”
    We must not take this lying down. People must hear what this ‘Green’ government does. Especially when they seem right now to be kow-towing to the Tobacco industry and the Alcohol industry.
    There must be an action to take this further. The jobs argument must be killed off. The point is that different jobs have different values. Some jobs have a value to us all, the worker taking it and the wider society. Other jobs serve only a limited few or relatively few and in their disregard for the wellbeing of everything are parasitic. Consumer capitalism and its materialism partner must continually be attacked, continually exposed for its parasitism. The ordinary person does not benefit. The quality of life of 90+% of us is destroyed. And destroyed for what purpose?
    Green jobs, a green way of life must be propagated. The understanding of Environment’s Ecosystem Service must be propagated and developed.

    • Julie Taylor says:

      “There must be an action to take this further.”
      We saw huge demonstrations recently in Turkey over the destruction of trees. I also seem to recall the whole Save Our Forests protest did not really capture the public imagination until after decisions had been taken to sell off the Public Forest Estate. Public opinion did effect a government change of plan. Sometimes I think this government just set out like an errant toddler to see how far they can push us; to see at what point will we react, or will we just let them get away with it.

    • Amy says:

      I wholeheartedly agree with you- why has this not made bigger news?

    • Karen Williams says:

      I agree, we need to value a healthy environment and the benefits it provides. Until economic policies are based on working towards an environmentally sustainable future. they are pointless.

    • John Headon says:

      Absolutely! I am thinking of starting a 38 Degrees or Avaaz petition. It’s time to get political and take the gloves off.

      • Nick says:

        Yes, do it, I would sign and share that.

      • sue thorne says:

        Well John,

        If you do start a 38 degrees petition I would certainly put my name to it.

        • Julie Taylor says:

          I don’t know if I’m allowed to post this link to a petition to save Oaken Wood on The Petition Site. I received this by email from The Petition Site this morning as I am already a member and support other issues they raise. The petition is called “Save Ancient Woodland from Quarry” this is the link –

          • John Headon says:

            Thank you for the petition link, Julie – I have signed and shared it on Fb – I trust everyone who reads this will do likewise.

          • Andy White says:

            Dear Friends,

            I just created the petition “Stop the destruction of Oaken Wood” and wanted to ask if you could add your name too.

            This campaign means a lot to me and the more support we can get behind it, the better chance we have of succeeding. You can read more and sign the petition here:


            Thank you!


            P.S. Can you also take a moment to share the petition with others? It’s really easy – all you need to do is forward this email or share this link on Facebook or Twitter:


          • Excellent, Andy! Wish I’d done it myself. I’ve signed it and shared it on Facebook. Oaken Wood is not finished yet!

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            Well done for creating this petition. I’m very glad to have signed it.

            Lots of people have made excellent comments here about Mr Pickles’s destructive decision. It’s an incredibly foolish one and the anger it has roused is fully justified.

            Is it too much to hope that Mr Pickles could prove he isn’t completely dimwitted and change his mind?

          • Joseph Marshall says:

            Many thanks for the link. I signed this petition eagerly, as well as the one on the 38 Degrees website created by Andy White.

        • Sandie says:

          Thanks for the link, which I’ve signed and passed on to friends. However, useful though this petition is I still feel 38Degrees involvement would have greater impact.

          Re the Care2 petition – one petitioner raised an interesting point that Eric Pickles’ decision may be illegal as it flouts the Government’s obligations under NERC Act 2006 Section 40 – Biodiversity considerations – I had a quick look at it and its wide species list which surely must include some of the richly diverse wildlife in Oaken Wood. Hard to believe all the conservation bodies involved overlooked this but it would be good to have confirmation that it was invoked. Perhaps Nicki can enlighten us?

      • Beverley Phillips says:

        I absolutely agree. Too many people are doing ‘non-jobs’ with no social value, helping line the pockets of businessmen. Big decisions are made by corporate lobbyists – where’s the democracy in that? Environmental destruction is the biggest global issue facing us today and it hardly gets a mention by world leaders or the media. We now have clean, green technology that, if invested in, would create thousands of real jobs. We can’t afford to lose any more ancient woodland. Extinction time has arrived for the political dinosaurs. I’ll sign the petition!

      • Ken Veteran says:

        With you John-I’m AGED & DECREPID -but not as bad as some (no a lot!) I could mention! Looks like they have just lost at least 6000+!

    • Sally Peake says:

      Green jobs – jobs that are locally sustainable, perhaps within Community Interest Companies have to be the way forward; Oaken Wood could support countless future generations through woodland management, coppicing, charcoal burning, etc – any quarrying will have a short-term benefit (look at coalmining – 200 years???)

  411. William Hearnden says:

    Once again the same old chestnut,will create jobs and bring benefits to all.We have seen in the past that this very rarely happens in the long term,but it doesn’t seem to bother ministers,as they will be out of office by then.I am in despair of this country it is slowly being destroyed,for what?

  412. Peter Steward says:

    As usual big profits and big business rule this country, Eric Pickles like the rest of this government is an enemy of the working people. Also how many of the cabinet have their millionare fingers in the companies that will destroy this woodland

    • Julie Taylor says:

      Totally agree. It’s all about how much money they can make for themselves. They don’t give a stuff about anything else. They totally refuse to see they are sawing off the branch they’re sitting on – that’ll be the mess for future generations to sort out as far as they are concerned. They totally disgust me.

      • Ken Somerset says:

        I could not agree more it started with thatcher then son of thatcher (tony blair) and now the eton boys, they dont give a stuf fabout anyone but helping their rich mates get richer!!!!!!!! Ken Somerset

    • Richard Bradbury says:

      Now that is an interesting question.
      So, how can it be discovered who’s friends are Shareholders in companies benefiting from this decision?

  413. Catherine says:

    I have a great sense of loss. Our hertitage is being stolen and destroyed in broad daylight. Why is this not bigger news? Does this really have to be the end? I wonder, with a huge PR machine behind it showing public support, can we not reverse or delay this decision? Similar things have happened in anti tesco/costa campaigns.

  414. Steve Gerrish says:

    I bet its jobs. Jobs trump everything. No matter that too many people are in jobs that do no good for society or environment. If these useless jobs don’t disappear, how will we get the important work done when everyone is busy having to take these useless jobs? If Oaken Wood was spared, these surplus quarrying jobs would come to a natural end, freeing up energy and talent for more useful work.
    Business needs social permission to operate. Does this quarry have the social permission it needs? This Government seems to be saying that permission is granted by virtue of it being a business. Business is king, whether or not it has social value.

  415. Bradley Lowe says:

    Yet more beautiful land being sacrificed for the short term money orientated decisions. These woods offered a place where people can go and get away from the busyness of life; the peaceful nature that once gave this area it’s attributes will be lost forever. Just to add insult to injury, there are now plans to destroy Bluebell Wood for housing. It’s probably worth mentioning that I’m only 18, and already I have seen a distinct deterioration of our countryside, so I dread to see what it’s going to be like when I’m older.

    • Jay says:

      Its so nice to hear from someone so young advocating for saving this beautiful green country – oops wont be green for too long if Despicable Me Pickles keeps destroying our beautiful ‘green’ countryside.

    • Gerry S Rose. says:

      Bradley, I am the opposite end of the spectrum to you, but it’s my grandchildren and the grand kids of others that I feel for. So much greenery has disappeared since I was young; we lost a bluebell wood and pond, home to wildlife, when I was not yet a teenager. Slaughtered on the anvil of progress.
      This has been exacerbated over the decades.

  416. Alan Stubbs says:

    I can’t see the need to quarry any stone from under an ancient woodland. When the West Malling bypass was built (through ANOTHER Ancient Woodland) all of the Ragstone was crushed. If all the stone is going to be used for is for road building then surely it would make sense to use stone from a more environmentally friendly source. If the stone has more value for other things then why didn’t Gallager buy up all the West Malling bypass stone when it was being dug up? Why is it always our irreplaceable green spaces being sacrificed for a quick buck. It’s not like Gallager even needs any more money. He has loads of it! How much is enough?

  417. Joanna says:

    Why can’t the powers that be forget their egos and think what is best for our children and grandchildren and help us all to save what wonderful God given countryside we have without destroying it.

    • Alan Meekings says:

      Good question, Joanna.

      I wish I knew the answer.

      I think we need to start by asking our elected representatives.

      Clearly the people of Kent need to tell us if (or not) they agree with the planning decisions made on their behalf on their elected representatives. Perhaps they think that mining aggregates from Oaken Wood is a really good idea.

      Then the rest of us in the UK need to ask our elected representatives if they personally agree with the decision of 10 of 16 councillors on the Planning Committee in Kent merits the destruction of ancient woodland, an irreplaceable national asset which the Coalition government promised to defend.

      This is an issue of national importance.

  418. Peter Kyte says:

    Again it is money before any other consideration. The usual government response will be, more jobs and wealth creation for the local economy and that can only be a good thing, forgetting that we live in a finite country.

    • Gerry S Rose. says:

      Excuse my language, but Mr Pickles is a bloody disgrace. Leave our woods and wildlife alone. At this rate we will have our islands covered in concrete and sinking down into hell. We are already sliding down the road to perdition in so many ways that we are in possibly beyond redemption. Government, bankers and educationalists take note and it would not be a bad idea for the judiciary to have a long, hard look at itself.

    • I do so agree. Job and wealth creation SOUND virtuous, but they only help short-term, and furure generations will rightly condemn us for destroying beautiful habitats.

  419. Nick Hales says:

    He is what we ageing hippies used to call a fat smirking pig, though probably never really thought people were that bad, (been proved wrong now though). An anachronism chosen no doubt deliberately by Cameron to do the dirty work of not being the greenest government, even when you have claimed to be, while laughing at anybody who believed you would.

  420. Karen says:

    When will those in power either acknowledge or care that you cannot simply re-create ancient woodland or move it elsewhere. Such a sad day for this woodland and all of the niche little insects and wildlife that call it their home. RIP Oaken Wood as it is today.

    • David Hampton says:

      The song ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ springs to mind – put all the trees in a tree museum. I also think Cliff Richard sang (? Silvery Rain) ‘won’t it be grand when all of the land is one big motorway’.

    • lisa says:

      I cannot believe this has happened again …. when talking to people no-one wants this …..we have to fight for more powers legally to stop this ….. where are all the powerful people that do care ….. why do governments not take into account environmental costs now & into the future …… a green & pleasant land ?! …… we need green spaces…. we need oxygen ……. we need our living history …. we need a legacy to leave to the future….. we need to maintain our sanity ….. but how can we when we have no power & finite resources/treasures we care about are destroyed forever …… total madness!

    • jan says:

      One day the whole world will be nothing more than concrete, houses, factories and a few well clipped manicured parks for people to play – nowhere for the other creatures we share the world with unless they are behind fences for us to look at. What are we doing to our world?

      • linda blakemore says:

        I fear this to be our future, but do we really want to live like that. We must all stand against this NO green greedy government. It makes my heart break for the loss of something so beautiful.

      • Richard taylor says:

        I couldn’t agree more, politicians act from themselves, all of them, from all parties, they are only interested in short term goals that suit them and their sponsors, whoever they may be. This decision is a disgrace, by made self seeking politicians and business leaders interested in profit, and nothing else.

    • Rosamund says:

      This is a horrible and senseless act of vandalism. I am ashamed of this government if they continue to do this kind of thing.

    • Alan Meekings says:

      Planning approval at local level was the result of a decision made by the Planning Committee of Kent County Council on a vote of 10 to 6.

      Surely this one marginal “democratic decision” made in Kent cannot be allowed to determine national policy on the preservation of ancient woodlands.

      What is about the Coalition Government’s earlier promise to preserve our dwindling ancient woodlands that Eric Pickles doesn’t understand?

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