3rd August 2017
Improving protection for veteran trees in government policy
Caroline Davis, ATF’s Vice Chair, writes about her work earlier this year, to produce a response to the Government’s Housing White Paper, in order to improve protection for aged and veteran trees in government policy.
Working in close partnership with the Woodland Trust, we set out a full response to the Housing White Paper, ‘Fixing our broken housing market’. In particular, we jointly proposed an amendment to a key section (paragraph 118), in order to clarify the need to protect aged and veteran trees and ancient woodland as irreplaceable habitat. We put forward the following wording, and with strong behind the scenes lobbying by the Woodland Trust, we hope this will be accepted: ‘Loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, resulting from development proposals should be wholly exceptional’
Throughout the ATF’s full response to the white paper , which was submitted in the Spring, we made a strong case for the protection and retention of ancient and other veteran trees, priority wood pasture and parkland, and other notable and important trees. We also highlighted the need for provision of open space, and space for new trees, in order to counterbalance the very strong emphasis in the paper of reducing their priority in the push to tackle the housing crisis.
The Ancient Tree Forum also worked with the Arboricultural Association, supporting their response to the White Paper. This enabled us to reinforce the need for tree specialists to be involved at all stages of design and planning, and for local authorities to have sufficient funds to be able to access arboricultural specialists to advise them. In particular, we want to ensure that the duty placed on local authorities to make provision for the protection and planting of trees in the planning process, can be fully and properly carried out, including making tree preservation orders.
Our work with the Woodland Trust and the Arboricultural Association has been an example of effective partnership working in fulfilment of our joint commitment to protecting ancient and other veteran trees.