Ancient woodlands in Hereford are getting a stay of execution after a decision to pause all work on two bypasses.
The Woodland Trust says it is delighted with today’s news from Herefordshire Council but will continue to press for the irreplaceable habitats to be considered as part of the reviews into both the Southern Link Road and Hereford Bypass.
As it stands, the southern project, which already has planning permission, is set to destroy two ancient woodlands – Grafton Wood and an unnamed wood, It will also cause indirect damage from disturbance, noise and pollution to Hayleasow Wood, which is also known as Newton Coppice. A number of ancient and veteran trees are also at risk.
The preferred route for the Hereford Bypass could result in damage and loss to two ancient woods – Hunderton and Rough Coppice – as well as several ancient and veteran trees. The proposed route would also go through a road lined with notable lime trees and also through wood pasture known as Belmont Abbey.
Woodland Trust campaigner Nicole Hillier said:
“The fact these beautiful ancient woods and trees, not to mention the flora, fauna and fungi that rely on them for survival, have been given a stay of execution is great news, but we are far from complacent.
“We will continue to lobby the council to impress on them the irreparable damage they will be causing to ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees at this time of climate change and nature emergency should these schemes progress.
“Ancient woodland accounts for just 2.4 percent of land in the UK and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Ancient woodlands are highly complex habitats that have developed over centuries and we cannot afford to lose them.
“The loss or damage of these centuries-old sites is catastrophic for the environment as they can never be replaced, even with new planting. We face losing numerous commuting and foraging areas for much of the wildlife in the area, including an extensive bat population.
The significant numbers of mature, over-mature and veteran trees that will be lost to the two developments would also be devastating to the invertebrates that rely on deadwood habitat – a regular and important feature of mature trees.”