Support grows for protecting Smithy Wood

This time last week we launched our campaign to save Smithy Wood, an ancient wood, on the outskirts of Sheffield. Under threat from plans to turn 20 acres of the wood in to a motorway service area, we asked supporters to urge the developers to think again; to understand just how rare and precious ancient woodland is.

Well I’m pleased to say the response we have had so far has been tremendous. Over 2,000 people have signed our petition and hundreds more have written directly to the developers, urging them to think again. Unfortunately a meeting on site that we had planned with the developers this week was cancelled. We’re disappointed and hoping to see this rearranged for the near future.

Local media interest has also been high – in fact the attention our campaign has been receiving was quoted by the developer as the reason why our meeting was cancelled. Questions such as ‘Why build in an ancient wood?’, ‘Why not use the neighbouring brownfield site?’, and ‘Why build the service station at all?’, have been put to me time and again. Encouragingly these are the same questions we ourselves are asking. 

Watch the report on ITV (click to view) (new window)

Watch the report on ITV (click to view)

What has been most encouraging though are the smaller, local stories that have emerged. From a Professor who sent us the history of Smithy Wood – it used to be coppiced woodland by monks who were granted land nearby in 1161 – to local residents who braved the rain on Wednesday to share their stories of life growing up with Smithy Wood to a BBC reporter and myself, their message has been loud and clear, “Hands off Smithy Wood.”

So with the deadline for the end of the developer’s consultation growing ever closer – 16th September – we will continue to press the message home: Ancient woodland is both rare precious; if you are considering an ancient wood as a site for development, you should consider elsewhere.

Oliver Newham, Senior Campaigner: Ancient Woodland

About Kaye Brennan

Senior Campaigner (Policy & Advocacy) for the Woodland Trust and Administrator, 'Woodland Matters' blog
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Climate Change, Conservation, Consultation, Protection and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Support grows for protecting Smithy Wood

  1. Alison says:

    Don’t be fooled by this – the developer has no intention of building on Smithy Wood, they want to propose the worst scenario so that there is no opposition to the brownfield site. We should be arguing for no services, not for more unnecesary development that adds to trarffc and pollution on and around the junction. It’s just tactics and we are falling for it by supporting the brownfield alterntative.

  2. Sandie says:

    I don’t understand the Developer’s comments that placing a service station in the woods as opposed to an adjacent brownfield site is in line with Government guidelines. I was under the impression that the Government committed to protect ancient woodland (unless Eric Pickles decided otherwise, of course) so what is the point being made here?

    Secondly, can you please get your spokespeople to stop banging on about woodpeckers and bats (which makes us out to be woolly wildlife lovers and tree huggers to the exclusion of all else) and point up the reasons why ancient woodland is so valuable in combating all the negatives: pollution, air quality, carbon, wind, soil erosion etc – all things which should make sense to people using, and living close to, a motorway and who couldn’t give a toss about wildlife. It might make them a bit more sympathetic.

  3. giles says:

    The managers and planners will be regrouping and looking to steamroller any resistance…don’ t become complacent…be ready for the next assault upon our beautiful treasures…we are talking about money and peoples’ drive toward it……there are few stronger instincts….
    peter

  4. The slaughter of bald and golden eagles has made the news in the last two days. The authorities were warned, but chose to ignore the facts. Corpses cannot be faked, although not all may be revealed and it is believed that those revealed may only be the tip of a much bigger picture for the truth has a bad habit of being obfuscated by those in authority. So it is with our woodlands. So much easier to bow to those who hold substantial purse-strings. I wish your efforts every success.

  5. Daphne says:

    It’s the first time I’ve written directly to developers in this way, so I’m pleased to learn the process works! I will take action like this again. Worried about the cancelled meeting though – can they be pressurised to make a firm re-arranged date?

  6. Jacquie Cox says:

    The fact that they are still arguing to develop the woodland when there is a brownfield site nearby just underlines the mentality of these developers. We could really use a sea change in thinking here.

    • Julie Taylor says:

      It seems to me that even considering the ancient woodland site over the brownfield site in the first place demonstrates the developers have ‘a bit missing’ when it comes to understanding the significance of ancient woodland. Sadly those of us who are ardent ancient woodland supporters know these particular developers are far from being alone in their money-driven world view. Why can they not understand that “ancient woodland” does not mean ‘a bunch of old trees that don’t matter’?!

      I am fortunate enough to live in ‘Roman Wall’ country … that bunch of old stones which happen to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site! In my view it is high time all ancient woodland was similarly regarded, with reverence as the precious and irreplaceable habitat that it truly is.

      • Jacquie Cox says:

        Julie I totally agree. That is why everyone concerned about ancient woodland needs to be talking about it in those terms, wherever and whenever they can. Ancient woodland is part of the national heritage, and we should refer to it as that.

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