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Gatwick Airport expansion plans continue fear for ancient woodland

The Gatwick Airport arm of Easirent Car Hire do not think the proposed idea by the airport will be enough to please those concerned about the ancient woodland which could be lost to expansion.

Three trees will be planted for every one lost in the ancient woodland by Gatwick Airport if its expansion plans go ahead. The woodland has been continuously wooded for more than 400 years.

The Woodland Trust is set to meet with representatives of Gatwick Airport following claims the airport has published inaccurate information regarding the effect its expansion will have on ancient woodland in Surrey. The trust has invited GatwickAirport’s commission director, Alastair McDermid, to learn more about ancient woodland by meeting members of its conservation team at Edolphs Copse, an ancient wood near the airport.

This follows the Gatwick’s publication of a report which the trust believes contains a number of significant inaccuracies about ancient woodland. The report was a summary of amendments it proposed to make following its consultation into three proposals for a second runway.

The Woodland Trust led a campaign to protect ancient woodland which produced 4,092 responses to the consultation, more than half the total number Gatwick received, expressing concern about areas of woodland that would be lost or severely damaged by the plans.

Katharine Rist, Woodland Trust, said “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 the loss of ancient woodland and proposes to do this by planting three new trees to every one lost, which it describes as best practice.

A Gatwick Airport spokesperson said “Gatwick’s approach to all local environmental features is to avoid where possible and then to minimise, mitigate and compensate any impact. We are aware of the importance of nearby areas of ancient woodland and have worked very hard to minimise any effects on these woodland areas, basing our plans on experts’ advice and industry best practice. We have agreed to meet with the Woodland Trust to discuss our plans further and will continue to work with all relevant authorities and wildlife trusts.”