Woodn’t it be good?

Last week readers will have seen a prime example of how the planning system is loaded against those who strive to protect our countryside from invasion by commercial developers (“Tree felling sparks protest”, Gazette, January 16).

Consider the case of Moreton Woods opposite Atlantic Village at the edge of Bideford.

For years, people have come out from the town to walk in the woods, which it had been assumed formed the natural boundary of the urban area.

Now McDonald’s and Whitbread want to build there, but there is a groundswell of opinion that it is wrong to destroy woodland for fast food and hotels.

So what do the landowners do? They fell the trees in advance, so as to remove that ground for objection.

To fell the trees they have to get a licence from the Forestry Commission and that licence carries the condition that they must re-plant with native broad-leaf species.

So far so good – that’s an improvement on the conifers that are being felled.

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But there’s a sting in the tail – planning permission to develop the site will override the conditions of the felling licence.

The two planning applications, McDonald’s and Whitbread, are with Torridge District Council and open for comments, for or against, right now.

And just think: if they are turned down, the felled woodland will have to be re-planted with new native trees.

Now there’s an incentive to make the effort to lodge an objection that could not only keep the developers at bay but result in a beautiful new broad-leaf woodland being planted at the edge of town.

We can dream!

Chris Hassall,


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