A proposed new quarry in Kent that could destroy even more ancient woodland than HS2 and Lower Thames Crossing combined must be stopped at all costs, says the Woodland Trust.
The extension to Hermitage Quarry could see at least 50 hectares* of ancient Oaken Wood lost. The site is an irreplaceable ancient woodland, home to protected and iconic species, including rare bats, birds like nightjar, insects like green tiger beetle, and dormice.
A public consultation on whether the quarry extension should be taken forward in Kent County Council’s Mineral Sites Plan has been launched.
In response, the Woodland Trust has launched an urgent campaign to stop one of the biggest losses of ancient woodland to development in England of the 21st century.
Trust campaign lead Jack Taylor said the proposal was “appalling”.
“We’re staggered by this proposal.
“Not only could it result in the loss of more than 50 hectares of ancient woodland, any remaining ancient woodland would be severely impacted – with huge effects on local wildlife and the destruction of a vital carbon store.
“We’re in the grip of a climate crisis and facing widespread biodiversity loss, so it’s imperative that we oppose the destruction of such a significant amount of irreplaceable ancient woodland.”
Ancient woodland just 2.5%
The UK’s ancient woods are an increasingly rare habitat, covering just 2.5% of the UK. The soils of centuries old, ancient woodland and the complex ecosystems within them cannot be re-grown or replaced. Once gone, it is lost for ever.
Despite objections, a previous expansion plan for the quarry was approved in 2013, leading to the loss of 32 hectares of ancient woodland.
Bigger than HS2 and Lower Thames Crossing combined
“This proposal could destroy an area of ancient woodland bigger than the losses suffered from HS2 and the Lower Thames Crossing combined.
“There should be no further loss of this precious habitat. Woods and nature are vital for the health of nature, climate and people. New quarries may be needed from time to time, but it’s hard to think of a more inappropriate place for a new quarry than an ancient woodland. Another location must be found.
“We’re ready to fight this and we need as many people as possible to add their own voice to the consultation and join the Woodland Trust in telling Kent County Council to remove this unacceptable expansion from its Mineral Sites Plan.
“It is imperative that we oppose the destruction of such an immense amount of irreplaceable ancient woodland.”
The Woodland Trust is appealing for help to stop the proposal by getting as many people as possible to join its urgent campaign at https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/protecting-trees-and-woods/campaign-with-us/hermitage-quarry/
For more information,
More information: Hermitage Quarry Threatens Ancient Woodland – Woodland Trust
Oaken Wood is a coppice woodland in which sweet chestnut is grown for purposes like fencing using the traditional practice of coppicing. Kent is a stronghold for this traditional type of woodland management which declined in many places around the UK. Ancient woodland indicator plants like bluebells grow in the wood.
HS2 and Lower Thames Crossing
If the extension goes ahead, the losses of ancient woodland could surpass that of the Lower Thames Crossing and HS2 schemes combined.
The total loss of ancient woodland because of HS2 is estimated to be between 34 and 37 hectares, while the Lower Thames Crossing would see approximately seven hectares lost. The schemes combined, according to current estimates, are likely to result in 41ha at the lowest level and 45 ha at the highest. (the exact figures are subject to change as both schemes are undergoing continuous design changes that may reduce losses or incur further losses).
The Woodland Trust
The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK with more than 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a world where woods and trees thrive for people and nature.
Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in how about this exactly that its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.
Science shows that woods and trees combat the devastating effects of climate change: flooding, pollution, and extreme weather and temperature. They are also the ultimate carbon captors, absorbing atmospheric carbon and locking it up for generations.
The message is clear: trees are one of the best ways to tackle the climate and nature crisis.
The Trust has three key aims:
- protect ancient woodland, which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
- restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
- establish native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife
What is ancient woodland?
Ancient woods are areas of woodland that persisted since 1600 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 1750 in Scotland.
- Just 2.5% of UK and (609,990 hectares) is covered in ancient woodland.
- Ancient woods are our richest and most complex terrestrial habitat in the UK, home to more threatened species than any other. Centuries of undisturbed soils and accumulated decaying wood have created the perfect habitat for communities of fungi and invertebrates. Other specialist species of insects, birds and mammals rely on ancient woodlands. Ancient woods also retain important archaeological features, often from past industry and management.
- Ancient woods are irreplaceable. We can’t replace or relocate the complex biodiversity of ancient woods which has accumulated over hundreds of years. Many species that thrive in ancient woodland are slow to colonise new areas. All ancient woodlands are unique and are distinctive of their locality. Once an ancient wood is destroyed, it’s gone for good.
* In pre-metric measures, one hectare (ha) is equal to a little less than 2½ acres.