Many of Tamworth’s residents have been stunned by the recent announcement on the proposed future for Hopwas Woods.
Simon Johnson – Tamworth and District Green Party Secretary – makes our position clear in this statement below.
There is no justification for LaFarge Tarmac’s application to destroy Hopwas Hayes Wood through quarrying and Tamworth Green Party supports the many local people who have leapt to the defence of this ancient woodland.
Not only does Staffordshire’s Minerals Local Plan already include sufficient sites to meet the county’s requirements for sand and gravel production, the company are completely – and no doubt deliberately – misrepresenting the definition of ancient woodland, to play down the impact of this proposed development.
Make no mistake – Hopwas Woods is ancient woodland, even if it includes an area damaged by fire in 1976: the point about ancient woodland is not the age of individual trees but the nature of the irreplaceable habitat, which is essential to the local area’s bio-diversity.
The company is also quoted in news reports as claiming the quarry site will only affect 20% of the woodland area, when plans clearly show it will affect considerably more than that.
One of the claims made is that the proposed quarry will create jobs. Whilst the Green Party welcomes the creation of employment opportunities, these always need to be balanced against the harm done and, in this case, the loss of such a rare and important habitat does not justify any economic or employment case. Jobs could also be created by making the most of the habitat management and leisure potential of the site – jobs which would not cost the earth.
The environment around Tamworth faces immense threats from all sides, such as the wholesale destruction of important and beautiful sites by the HS2 White Elephant and the government’s insane drive to increase our dependence on fossil fuels through fracking and other unconventional extraction methods. Destroying one of the remaining environmental and community land assets would be a crime.
We are pleased that Tamworth MP, Chris Pincher is also getting behind the campaign to save the woods but don’t be fooled – the Conservative government’s fingerprints are all over this kind of corporate vandalism. The government’s Infrastructure Bill proposes that ”surplus” public land can be sold off without consultation or consideration of rights of way. As Hopwas Woods are jointly owned by the Ministry of Defence, this land is very vulnerable to being sold from under our noses to Lafarge Tarmac and used for quarrying, without local people having any chance to object.
We would urge everyone to object to these proposals through the County Council’s website – the Friends of Hopwas Woods have produced an excellent short newsletter explaining how to object and the arguments to make.
But also think very carefully before you vote in next year’s General Election. One of David Cameron’s many lies in 2010 was his claim to lead the greenest government ever. The government’s new planning guidance will lead to more ‘Hopwas Woods’ across the country being destroyed in the pursuit of corporate greed and we will all pay the price in the long run.
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