The preferred route announced on April 12 for a new crossing over the River Thames in Kent and Essex by the Transport Secretary will potentially see loss to two areas of woodland south of the Thames in Kent.
Claylane Wood, which is ancient and another, Shorne Wood, which is SSSI-designated and partially ancient, records show it is home, to amongst other species, the ruddy darter dragonfly, marsh tit and hawfinch.
Over 2,000 people sent an objection to Highways England via the Woodland Trust, opposing the routes which could cause damage to ancient woodland.
Nikki Williams, Woodland Trust head of campaigning, said: “Thanks to all those who have campaigned the chosen route is less destructive to ancient woodland than we feared. Nonetheless the preferred route still singularly fails to meet Highways England’s Biodiversity Action Plan which commits to ‘no net loss of biodiversity’ from its projects.
“Decisions like the one today remind us why we must continue to fight for better protection for ancient woodland, which is irreplaceable. Until planning policy is strengthened we will continue to see our most precious wildlife habitats chipped away for the sake of supposed economic progress.”
The Trust is currently asking the public to respond to a Government consultation on the recently published housing white paper, which provides an opportunity to strengthen protection for ancient woods and ‘aged and veteran trees’ – only if Government also amends planning policy.
Take part in the consultation response at woodlandtrust.org.uk/actnow.