Many people have contacted me over the role of NGOs in the Fineshade case.
It’s not universal, but there has been a lot of criticism of the Woodland Trust for being very keen on ancient woodland, and being very keen to be paid to plant completely new woodland, but being a bit ambivalent about spending time and money on saving centuries-old woodland. Speaking as one who is definitely middle-aged, and neither ancient nor young, I am a bit worried about this brand of ageism too.
Parts of Fineshade Wood are certainly ancient woodland, and these are not being cut down to provide the space for 70 luxury holiday cabins. Instead, the cabins will be in the very very old woodland areas that aren’t ancient. It seems to me unlikely that the Dormice, Adders, Purple Emperors and Nightjars that inhabit this woodland will shrug with equanimity at the plonking down of 70 (that is a very big number) of cabins in their woodland. I’m no ecologist – oh hang on!, yes I am an ecologist! – and I think that this is a massive and damaging development in a woodland that the Forestry Commission describes as ‘rich semi-natural native woodland’.
The other criticism that I have heard several times, is of the Beds, Cambs and Northants (Northants always gets bottom-billing) Wildlife Trust, for not making a public fuss over this Local Wildlife Site. The local Wildlife Trust did put in a very strong objection to this development but they have hardly turned it into a cause celebre in the same way that the Derbyshire WT did, so effectively, over the Sanctuary Local Wildlife Site.
Instead, it has largely fallen to local people to mount the campaign that I hope will have successfully persuaded local councillors to vote against the development on Wednesday evening.
You still have time to object to the proposed development – and thank you to those who have. It isn’t completely simple (I warn you) because there is quite a lot of re-entering your details to be done, but here is the link.