Over 40% of new road schemes across England impact irreplaceable ancient woods - Woodland Trust

Planned changes to the Government’s transport policy don’t go nearly far enough, with new road schemes causing huge damage to both ancient woodland and veteran and ancient trees, claims the Woodland Trust.

New analysis published by the charity paint a stark picture of new road developments – with 106 ancient woodlands confirmed to be directly or indirectly affected, a further 83 ancient woods predicted to be affected, and 82 ancient and veteran trees felled over a decade of road investment.

With ancient woodland making up less than 3% of the UK’s land mass, the Trust said decisions made now by Government planning chiefs must prioritise protecting irreplaceable habitat.

The Government is giving the public until 6 June 2023 to have its say on the National Networks National Policy Statement (NNNPS) for transport infrastructure projects, but the Woodland Trust says proposed changes to the policy don’t go nearly far enough.

The charity says the draft policy pays “lip service” to addressing the impacts of roads on the climate by requiring carbon assessments for schemes, but then states that emissions on their own aren't a good enough reason to refuse permission for a new road.

Naomi Tilley, Lead Campaigner at the Woodland Trust, said: “While some of the changes made to the National Networks National Policy Statement are welcome, they don’t go far enough. The policy must be updated to fully address the urgent need for joined up action to halt nature decline and reduce carbon emissions.

“Government cannot continue to build schemes that damage or destroy ancient woodland and veteran trees that could be centuries old. And we cannot continue to build roads that result in ever increasing carbon emissions that will accelerate the climate crisis. This approach is not sustainable. Avoiding harm must be at the heart of decisions about development to ensure we do not repeat the devastating mistakes of past projects. This would be real progress.”

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Posted On: 06/06/2023

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