‘Irreplaceable’ ancient woodland is under threat

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Owen Paterson has been asked to come to West Sussex to gain a fuller understanding of ancient woodlands.

Thursday, 30th January 2014, 9:01 am
The path through Tottington Woods, Small Dole, one of the areas of ancient woodland in West Sussex

Government plans could see ancient woodlands cut down for developments, if 100 trees are planted for each one destroyed.

Dr Tony Whitbread, chief executive of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, has written to the Secretary of State, inviting him to visit to see for himself why these woodlands are so important.

Examples in the area include Titnore Wood in Worthing, Clapham Wood, Wepham Wood in Angmering Park, Rewell Wood near Arundel Park and Tottington Woods in Small Dole.

The invitation was sparked by biodiversity offsetting discussions.

Dr Whitbread has agreed biodiversity offsetting is a good idea in concept, but could be open to abuse and warned of the dangers to irreplaceable habitats.

“They are living ancient monuments, stores of historical information and homes to plants and animals that simply won’t flourish if you plant a copy somewhere else,” he explained.

A Defra spokesperson said: “Biodiversity offsetting has the potential to improve our environment while boosting the economy.

“That is why we have been consulting with wildlife groups and developers on how we could make that potential work in England.

“It is extremely unlikely ancient woodland would be built on and existing planning rules and protection for ancient woodland will continue to apply.”