Protest in Ash Green:
On Tuesday 18 May residents Protest in Ash Green whilst the Guildford Borough Council (GBC) planning committee inspected the site and Ancient Tree, which developers plan to to uproot. The protesters object to the loss of this veteran tree as well as the continued development Ash. This application has received 62 objections which can be seen publicly via the GBC planning portal under application 18/P/02456.
Elaine Boyes, Committee Member for Ash Green Residents’ Association (AGRA) urged the GBC committee members to take this into consideration that, “the Veteran Tree is listed on the Ancient Tree Inventory. National Planning Policy requires Veteran Trees to be protected from development except in the most exceptional circumstances. An independent survey has been carried out. The tree is alive and thriving. It plays a vital role in wildlife habitat. It has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). It cannot be destroyed”
Why Veteran Trees are important?
www.forestresearch.gov.uk explains that a veteran tree is not precisely defined but can be described by its “great age relative to others of the same species, existing in an ancient stage of life or due to its biological, aesthetic or cultural interest.”
These trees are of a great ecological importance as the last remnants of deadwood habitats that once existed throughout the wildwood. These trees can provide habitats for rare fungi, invertebrates, lichens, birds and bats. Due to their structural complexity, they also provide many habitat niches that do not co-exist on younger trees.
The planning application
This current application 18/P/02456 for the Erection of 73 dwellings has been ongoing since it was submitted in 2018. It has been fiercely objected to by the Ash Green Residents Association (AGRA) who last year successfully appealed to the High Court who overturned planning permissions with the financial support of Ash Parish Council (APC) after the Judge found the planning committee had been mislead.
Planning Committee meeting
Agenda for Thursday 20 May, the for the planning committee will be considering this application following their site visit and the office’s report. This will be broadcast live and available to watch again after the meeting but using via this link.
At the protest
At the protest in Ash Green, I spoke to Surrey County Council (SCC) Cllr Matt Furniss (Shalford) and Cllr Carla Morson (Ash), who is also the Parish councillor for Ash South, the ward in which the application lies. Local residents had created banners to show the planning committee their resolve to protect their countryside, wildlife and the ecosystem that supports it.
Cllr Carla Morson said:
“Like many others I worry about the changes to our landscape and the effect that the many new builds in our area are having on this. I’m particularly concerned that this all of this building is having not only a negative effect on our infrastructure but also to our heritage sites and that the biodiversity is also under threat. I accept that new housing is required but do feel that this should not be to the detriment of our countryside and heritage. My personal view is that there should, and must, be a way in which developers in this day and age ensure the preservation of the old and blend in the new with the surroundings in which new builds take place. We have already lost many of our much-loved poplar trees, to now risk losing a beautiful veteran tree and the subsequent loss of wildlife as well cannot be considered right. It’s the responsibility of all of us to do everything we can to retain the beauty and biodiversity for future generations.”
Photos taken by Ed Schofield.