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Ancient woodland ‘could be destroyed’ for JCB golf course

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ANCIENT woodland ‘could be destroyed’ under current plans for a JCB golf course, according to two concerned environmental groups ‘strongly objecting’ the loss.

The Woodland Trust and the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust are objecting to plans for a £30 million JCB golf course on 240 acres of land south of the World Headquarters, with worries ancient woodland may be cut down to make way for holes.

Environmental officers at the two organisations are now urging JCB to reconsider plans for certain areas of the course which will currently destroy woodland, something they say is ‘easily avoidable’.

Kate Dewey of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust wrote to planning officer Jim Malkin at East Staffordshire Borough Council: “Staffordshire Wildlife Trust strongly objects to the loss of 0.97 hectares of ancient woodland on the site.

“The proposal for a private golf course in this location to support JCB’s ongoing business is in our view not the issue which the LPA needs to consider, but rather whether the need for, and benefits of the precise position and design of the four fairways which impact on ancient woodland – holes 3, 11, 12 and 13 – are so essential they outweigh this significant loss.

“Although we appreciate the desire to achieve a championship level course, we feel with some changes this could be done without these losses, and that the need for this exact design cannot be argued to outweigh the need to preserve this irreplaceable resource.”

The Trust also said though the proposals are positive in terms of habitat creation, the major impacts to ancient woodland are ‘unacceptable’ in terms of national policy.

Katharine Rist, campaigner at the Woodland Trust, also wrote to Mr Malkin: “The Trust continues to object to this proposal due to the direct loss to ancient woodland through the unacceptable citing of a leisure activity within an irreplaceable habitat.”

A resident of Rocester who does not wish to be named said: “Nearly one hectare of irreplaceable ancient woodland, protected by national policy, would be destroyed under the current golf course layout.

“I do not have a problem with the golf course per se, in fact I think it is positive in many ways, but I find it appalling that a big company can ruin our heritage and landscape in the name of sport when surely with this much land it could be avoided.”

A JCB spokesman said: “We have reduced to a minimum any ancient woodland that has to be disturbed and that disturbance is significantly outweighed by planned new planting of trees.”

Those who wish to make comments on the application can do so at www.eaststaffsbc.gov.uk by searching for P/2014/00228

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