The Government needs to offer more protection for this country’s ancient woods and veteran trees.
They are part of our natural heritage, and should be offered the same protection as built heritage assets, such as listed buildings. Both natural and built assets contribute to this country’s culture and history and, as such, should be preserved for generations to come.
The Government has shown that it agrees with this principle, by introducing a new Housing White Paper, which would ensure that planners recognise ancient woods and veteran trees as being as valuable as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), National Parks, and Green Belt land.
However, whilst this is a welcome development, there is concern that this principle will not be put into action unless the Government updates the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
Current planning policy for built heritage assets, states that any loss from development should only occur in ‘exceptional’ circumstances. I don’t see a reason why this same standard should not be applied to natural heritage assets.
This is why I have written to Gavin Barwell MP, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, and urged him to update the NPPF to include further protections for ancient woods and veteran trees.