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On 11 November 2014, under its delegated authority, Forestry Commission’s England National Committee (ENC) approved the disputed woodland creation scheme application at Wallsheild in Northumberland meaning that the proposed planting can now go ahead.
The applicants and the objectors have recently been informed and the grant contract finalised and signed.
Notes to Editor
- The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england
- Case background:
On 21 August 2013 the Forestry Commission accepted an application for grant aid to support the creation of a 77 hectare conifer woodland at Wallsheild in Northumberland.
Over the course of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening and grant consultation process the applicant modified the proposals, reducing the area to 47.87ha. The proposal was further reduced following discussions with the Northumberland National Park to a final proposal of 42.87 ha. This proposal was submitted for approval on 1 July 2014 and included planting 31.49 ha of conifers together with 11.38 hectares of broadleaf and open space.
The Forestry Commission’s opinion and decision on the EIA can be found at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-9alett
As part of the formal consultation Northumberland National Park Authority objected to the scheme due to concerns surrounding potential impacts on the historic environment, access, natural environment, and the wider landscape.
These issues were considered alongside comments from other stakeholders by the Forestry and Woodland Advisory Committee (FWAC) on 8 September 2014. The committee also held a site visit to discuss the case with both the applicant and National Park Authority. The meeting enabled some of the concerns to be addressed (e.g. access) but the two parties where unable to reconcile all the issues which resulted in the National Park sustaining their objection to the scheme.
In line with the disputed case procedure the application and report of the FWAC was considered by the ENC on 1 October. The (ENC) supported the view that the scheme should be amended to include the formal designation of a footpath to link the open access land as requested by the Northumberland National Park. They also stated that the grant scheme agreement should include a commitment to enable the Northumberland National Park to complete a basic archaeological survey on the site. The survey concluded that no new areas of archaeological significance have been identified.
After considering the Report from the FWAC and other information made available to it the ENC was minded to approve the application, subject to receiving the views of the Forestry Minister, as required. Having been provided with details of the case, how it had been handled and that the ENC was minded to approve the application (subject to the formal designation of a footpath linking adjacent areas of access land) the Minister considered it unnecessary to make any further comment.
The English Woodland Grant Scheme contract has now been finalised and signed by both parties.
- Media Contact: Stuart Burgess, 0300 067 4073, email@example.com