Residents rejoice as emergency protection order granted for Hitchin woodland

The wooded area near Lucas Lane in Hitchin is now protected by an Emergency Tree Protection Order. Picture: John McCall

The wooded area near Lucas Lane in Hitchin is now protected by an Emergency Tree Protection Order. Picture: John McCall - Credit: Archant

Hitchin-based campaigners have praised North Herts District Council’s decision to place an emergency tree protection order on a historic woodland near to their homes.

The wooded area, just west of Lucas Lane and near ‘Headlands’ in Hitchin, will now be protected from any potential building works or alteration for the foreseeable future.

The emergency tree order came into effect for the wooded area on September, 10. It will remain for six months or until the order is confirmed by the council.

Under the order, the woodland is temporarily protected, meaning any work on the trees in that wooded area will require a formal application to be made to North Herts District Council.

Retired architect John McCall, who is acting on behalf of concerned residents, said: “The TPO has prevented a cynical attempt by the developer and the site owners to commit an act of environmental vandalism in order to try and increase the HT5 development area, at the same time tearing up the Local Plan proposals before they have even been fully ratified.

“In an age where we are becoming more sensitive to unnecessary destruction of wildlife habitat, the TPO means protection for wildlife using the woodland. Wildlife of this sort does not need huge areas to survive, but it needs something, and this area supplies it.

“The TPO is particularly important bearing in mind that the open countryside to the west is virtually a wildlife desert, being subjected to industrial type farm management with no concessions to flora and fauna.”

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The campaign group have previously fought off any potential moves from the developer or contractors – with protestors working in shifts during an early morning protest at the start of September to ensure no action was taken.

The group contacted Bim Afolami MP, who confirmed he wrote to the developers, saying he was “extremely pleased to see that the council have taken action to protect the affected area”.

In an official statement, the site’s developers, Hill of Cambridge, said: “We are working closely with the council and the landowner to assess and agree the extent of any permitted clearance works for a small area of land near Lucas Lane.

“We need to safely access this area to conduct surveys and establish the boundary of the land. These discussions are ongoing and we are following all of the necessary environmental due process to protect local wildlife.

“We have already sought advice on any clearing work from the Forestry Commission, who have confirmed there is no need for a licence. We also conducted an independent ecology survey, which found very low potential for protected species of wildlife.

“We have been, and remain, in contact with local residents and should anyone have further questions we would encourage them to contact our Resident Liaison Team on 0800 032 6760.”

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