The CBA has written to Sheffield City Council to stress the archaeological significance of Ancient Woodland in response to a public consultation over a planning application to build a new motorway service station close to junction 35 of the M1 motorway. The application includes proposals to destroy an area of Smithy Wood, which is recognised as Ancient Woodland, and to offset the impact of this through the replanting of new trees on an adjacent site.
The CBA is strongly opposed to the inclusion of Ancient Woodland in bio-diversity offsetting schemes, such as the one proposed at Smithy Wood, as we believe that the potential archaeological impact of such schemes cannot be mitigated by a programme of replanting. Ancient Woodland is given special protection within the National Planning Policy Framework because of its ecological significance (NPPF, para 118). However, the CBA strongly believes that additional consideration must also be given to the archaeological significance of these important landscapes, and in particular to the living archaeology of the woodland itself, which is unique and irreplaceable.
The Government is currently consulting on the use of bio-diversity offsetting schemes, and the CBA has joined the Woodland Trust’s campaign to ensure that this does not put historic and Ancient Woodland at risk of destruction. The CBA has recently received assurances from the Government that the current protection for Ancient Woodland will not be affected by bio-diversity offsetting (see below) however we believe that the results of applications like the one at Smithy Wood are vital in ensuring that this is actually borne out in practice.
There is more information about the local campaign to save Smithy Wood on the Woodland Trust's website. Any comments on the proposals must be logged with Sheffield City Council by the end of today (May 16th). There is more information about the application on the planning portal. You can also submit your comments directly through the portal, although you will need to sign in to do so.