Woodland Trust asking Gatwick respondents to send a photo of themselves, to prove to Gatwick they are real people
Gatwick carried out a consultation, that ended on 16th May) about its 2nd runway plans. There were some 7,700 responses (the vast majority against a new runway) and of those, 4,092 came through a campaign by the Woodland Trust. However, in its analysis of the consultation responses, Ipsos Mori decided to discount these responses, as they had been generated by a campaign and were sent in electronically. It is too convenient for the airport to discount over half the responses in this way. The Woodland Trust is now asking everyone who backs their campaign against Gatwick destroying areas of ancient woodland for its runway, to send in photos and details of themselves, in order to prove to the powers-that-be that they are real people, their opinions are real, and there is no reason for their consultation responses to be invalidated.You can add your photo, and a brief comment, on the Woodland Trust website here. The Trust is rightly appalled at suggestions by Gatwick that they can justify destroying ancient woodland by just offsetting it, through planting 3 new saplings to replace each ancient tree – or translocating woodland soil to new locations for new saplings. Neither even partly replace the richness, quality and diversity of true ancient woods.
Click here to upload your photo, on the Woodland Trust site.
Say NO to ancient woodland loss at Gatwick
Gatwick’s owners need to see the real people behind genuine concerns for ancient woodland.
The Woodland Trust says:
Thank you for all your responses to the consultation into a new runway at Gatwick Airport. Over 50% of all responses received were generated by our campaign. As a result, the impact on ancient woodland and the existing wildlife corridors from each of the three new runway options has been pushed to the forefront of the debate.
However, a post-consultation report suggests the views we helped submit to the official consultation were collected as part of an ‘organised campaign’. We need to make sure they are counted as individual submissions.
New plans also continue to include fundamental misunderstandings about the ecological impact a new runway will have, as well as worrying ideas like ‘offsetting’ irreplaceable ancient woodland.
Better understanding of this precious woodland is crucial to its future, so we’ve invited Gatwick’s Airports Commission Director to visit nearby Edolph’s Copse with our conservation experts to see ancient woodland close up.
We also want to make sure your views are taken into account, so we’ll personally hand him a hard copy of the 1,058 additional comments our campaign generated.
You’re a real person; help us prove it to Gatwick’s owners
To further emphasise that the submissions our campaign generated came from real people, with unique views about the impact of a new runway, we are asking you to send us a selfie with a special message to Gatwick’s owners. We’ll take these photos along to our meeting to make sure your views are heard.
Show your face for ancient woodland – add your photo to our website.
4092 responses were facilitated by the Woodland Trust’s campaign – more than half of the total number Gatwick received – and all expressed concern about three areas of ancient woodland that will be lost or severely damaged by the plans. Respondents included customers of Gatwick and local residents.
Concern has been raised locally about whether these responses have been properly considered by Gatwick’s owners, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).
The Woodland Trust is satisfied that respondents’ calls for the airport to think carefully about ancient woodland protection have been heard, but is alarmed that in an apparent attempt to alter its plans, GIP has made inaccurate, and in some instances completely inappropriate, proposals that neither avoid, nor fully compensate for the loss and damage that would be caused to ancient woodland – an irreplaceable habitat.
Woodland Trust Campaigner, Katharine Rist, said: “Thanks to thousands of people raising the issue, ancient woodland is mentioned extensively within Gatwick Airport’s report. But Gatwick’s new proposals to deal with loss and damage to wildlife corridors and precious habitats are misguided at best. We hope to speak directly to the owners of Gatwick and help them understand the complex nature of ancient woodland and why best practice would actually be to avoid any loss of this irreplaceable habitat in line with the mitigation hierarchy.”
Gatwick’s report cites the need to ‘offset’ (1) the loss of ancient woodland and proposes to do this by planting three new trees to every one lost in an ancient wood, which it describes as ‘meeting best practice’.
Katharine continued: “Ancient woodland is not solely about trees. It is a habitat of national significance – a unique ecosystem containing complex soil structures that have lain undisturbed for hundreds, potentially thousands, of years. It is crucial GIP fully understand what it is putting at risk. Both the Woodland Trust and DEFRA agree it can not be ‘offset’. Planting new woodland at three times the amount of ancient woodland lost will never result in a habitat of the same biodiversity value.”
‘Translocation’ is also cited by Gatwick as a possible solution to ancient woodland loss. This method requires a woodland habitat first to be felled, and then the top layer of soil dug up and relocated by lorry to another site to use as the basis for new planting. The Woodland Trust has seen no evidence of successful translocation despite several Freedom of Information requests to Government departments (2) and considers it a salvage operation at best.
A suggestion was even made in the report that the Woodland Trust might take on ownership and management of land that had been used for offsetting the loss of ancient woodland, which goes completely against the charity’s stated aims.
The Woodland Trust will continue to oppose any airport expansion that results in the loss of ancient woodland and to lobby for the protection of ancient woodland around Gatwick Airport. To this end, it will be attending the GATCOM meeting in October and hopes to see Gatwick’s plans improve significantly before they form part of any further consultation.
(1) Biodiversity Offsetting
There is currently no best practice when it comes to biodiversity offsetting for other habitats since Government is yet to publish its response to the consultation it held last year, or publish the results of the pilot studies that ended in April.
The maximum metric currently advocated by Defra for biodiversity offsetting is 30:1. Defra agree that ancient woodland can not be offset because it is irreplaceable and suggest that where loss is deemed unavoidable a ‘bespoke’ scheme should be used. Therefore, the Trust believes that any bespoke scheme should take 30:1 as its starting point and planting should be sensitively sited, taking full account of the principles set out in the Lawton review and endorsed by the Natural Environment White Paper of “bigger, better, and more joined up landscapes”.
(2) Translocation – FOI requests
The Woodland Trust has asked for monitoring records from a site translocated as part of HS1 (the Channel Tunnel rail link) but, despite being referred to by ministers as a ‘success’, no monitoring records can be traced.
Woodland Trust highlights loss of 3 areas of ancient woodland for Gatwick runway
Though much of the area that would be flattened and covered in concrete and tarmac for a 2nd Gatwick runway – and associated building – would be fields and grassland, there are also three areas of ancient woodland. The Woodland Trust has assessed the woods that are threatened and found that they are significant and have important local biodiversity value. The current Gatwick consultation on its runway options (there is only one of the options that the airport wants, and the consultation has no proper way for respondents to say they oppose any new runway) barely recognises the impact a new runway will have on this irreplaceable habitat. The fact it will also wipe out the last remaining ecological network for wildlife around the whole of the south side of the airport is ignored. The Woodland Trust is urging people to respond to the consultation, either by just saying NO to any of the options, or giving more detail in the response boxes to reflect the proposed destruction of these valuable bits of high quality woodland.
with more detail of how the Woodland Trust encouraged their supporters to respond to the Gatwick consultation, to help protect woodland (and other habitats) at threat.