Consultation Draft (February 2017)

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Consultation Draft (February 2017)

Policy SDC2: Trees, Woodland and Hedgerows

Representation ID: 5589

Received: 07/04/2017

Respondent: The Woodland Trust

Representation Summary:

Suggested policy wording to strengthen protection for ancient woods and veteran trees, and commitment to replacement tree-planting.

Full text:

Policy SDC2: Trees, Woodland and Hedgerows
The Woodland Trust believes that this policy should be improved to more explicitly protect irreplaceable ancient woods and veteran trees. Given the multiple benefits of trees and woods, for both people and wildlife, we would also like the Council adopt stronger wording on replacement tree planting. We include some suggested policy wording amongst our comments below.

Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees
Ancient woodland is irreplaceable. It is our richest terrestrial wildlife habitat, with complex ecological communities that have developed over centuries, and contain a high proportion of rare and threatened species, many of which are dependent on the particular conditions that this habitat affords. For this reason, ancient woods are reservoirs of biodiversity, but because the resource is limited and highly fragmented, they and their associated wildlife are particularly vulnerable.

Their long continuity and lack of disturbance means ancient woods are often also living history books, preserving archaeological features and evidence of past land use, from earthworks to charcoal pits. They are also places of great aesthetic appeal, making them attractive for recreation and the many benefits this can bring in terms of health and wellbeing.

"England's ancient woodlands and trees represent a living cultural heritage, a natural equivalent to our great churches and castles. They are also our richest wildlife habitat and are highly valued by people as places of tranquillity and inspiration". (Keepers of Time - A Statement of Policy for England's Ancient and Native Woodland, 2005, Defra and The Forestry Commission)

Ancient woodland is any wooded area that has been wooded continuously since at least 1600 AD. It includes:

* Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland - Mainly made up of trees and shrubs native to the site, usually arising from natural regeneration
* Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites - Areas of ancient woodland where the former native tree cover has been felled and replaced by planted trees, usually of species not native to the site

The National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG) confirms that ancient semi-natural woodland and plantations on ancient woodland sites have equal protection under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

"Wooded continuously" doesn't mean there has been a continuous tree cover across the entirety of the whole site. Open space, both temporary and permanent, is an important component of woodlands.

Ancient wood pastures and historic parkland can be a distinct form of ancient woodland. Many have not been included on the Ancient Woodland Inventory because their low tree density meant that they didn't register as woodland on historical maps.

"Veteran trees" are trees which, because of their age, size or condition are of cultural, historical, landscape and nature conservation value. They can be found as individuals or groups within ancient wood pastures, historic parkland, hedgerows, orchards, parks or other areas.

Veteran trees are highly valued for: the sense of inspiration, fascination, and awe they instil in people when faced with a living plant that is older than many human generations; their importance as a repository of genetic information from many centuries past; the many habitat niches they provide - especially the deadwood found in living trees; their role in providing local distinctiveness, structure and interest to landscapes; the historical and cultural links they can provide to past generations and communities.

Suggested policy wording:
1. Loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, resulting from development proposals should be wholly exceptional.
2. As ancient woodland and veteran trees are irreplaceable, discussions on compensation should not form part of the assessment of the benefits of the development proposal.
3. Where ancient wood pastures are identified they should receive the same consideration as other forms of ancient woodland.

Tree Planting
We welcome the reference to replacement tree planting in this policy, but believe that the Council should commit to planting more trees than it removes as this will increase the chances that more trees will grow to maturity. These replacements might be planted in other locations so that they enhance the environment at a landscape scale. This is especially important given that North East Derbyshire has only 10.7 per cent woodland cover, which is lower than the 13 per cent figure for England as a whole.

Suggested policy wording:
1. Any trees lost outside woods, particularly to disease in parks and adjacent to roads, should be replaced on at least a two for one basis.

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