Charity calls on public to help save ancient trees

St Leonards Forest
St Leonards Forest
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The Woodland Trust is calling on people across East Sussex to help save its threatened ancient woods.

The charity’s Save Our Ancients campaign follows Government proposals in the recent housing white paper to add ancient woodland and aged and veteran trees to the current list of policies that restrict development in England.

But, unless amends are also made to national planning policy, the Trust says this will not lead to an increase in protection for our ancients, which are irreplaceable.

The Woodland Trust is currently aware of 15 threatened ancient woods in East Sussex alone and the charity has recorded 1,571 ancient or veteran trees in the region on its Ancient Tree Inventory.

The white paper is open for public consultation and the Trust is urging people to speak up for East Sussex’s ancients. Current policy states that developments that impact on ancient woodland should be refused permission ‘unless the benefits outweigh the loss’.

This loophole has led to more than 700 ancient woods currently being at risk from development across the UK, says the Trust.

In comparison, any loss of our built heritage is deemed to be ‘wholly exceptional’. The Trust wants ancient woodland and trees to be protected along the same lines.

Kaye Brennan, Woodland Trust campaign lead said: “Our ancient woods and trees are increasingly recognised as ‘natural heritage’ – they should enjoy at least the same level of protection as built heritage.

“They are an intrinsic part of East Sussex’s fabric but they are being failed by current planning policy.

“While this loophole exists they are so vulnerable, but we have an excellent opportunity to change their fate - we need the public to help us make this happen.”

Support the charity’s call to ensure planning policy is amended to ensure any loss to our ancients from development is ‘wholly exceptional’ at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/actnow before May 2.