‘They deserve to be given a future’ - Woodland Trust calls for action to safeguard region’s ancient trees

A cattle handler shelters beneath one of Blickling's ancient treesPicture: Sam Robbins

A cattle handler shelters beneath one of Blickling's ancient treesPicture: Sam Robbins - Credit: Archant

More than 700 ancient trees in Norfolk and Suffolk could be at risk of being felled if a change in planning policy goes ahead, The Woodland Trust has warned.

The UK's largest woodland conservation charity is calling for the public to support its bid to challenge changes to planning policy which if approved could leave hundreds of ancient and veteran trees in East Anglia at risk of destruction.

A tree that has passed beyond maturity and is old in comparison with other trees of the same species, there are more than 1,400 registered ancient trees in East Anglia. Of this figure 188 are in Norfolk and a further 554 in Suffolk.

But the Woodland Trust is warning a proposed change in the National Planning Policy Framework could mean that for the first time, the level of protection for these individual trees could be lower than that given to ancient woodland.

In March, Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to overhaul England's planning policy to give ancient woodland stronger protection.


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However, ancient and veteran trees have bot been included in the policy amendments and have been separated from ancient woodland. This, warns The Woodland Trust effectively downgrades the individual tree's status' and means they would be at risk from development, resulting in the loss of precious habitat.

Kaye Brennan, lead campaigner for policy and advocacy at The Woodland Trust, said: 'This may seem like a subtle shift but it's a significant change to policy and must be challenged. It makes no sense for the Government to improve protection for one irreplaceable natural habitat, but not another.

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'Ancient trees have been left out in the cold.

'The UK is known across Europe for its incredible natural heritage; these living monuments have witnessed centuries of history, and they are still very relevant today. They deserve to be given a future – but that's at risk unless they get the protection they so badly need, and deserve – just like ancient woodland would have.

To have your say on the proposed changes and to respond to the public consultation, which is open until Thursday, May 10, visit The Woodland Trust's website

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