Forest amenities

PUBLISHED: 11:30 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:02 06 May 2010

SIR – Can I reassure Mr Nevitt (Herts Advertiser, March 18) that I do occasionally venture into the great outdoors and have even been known to indulge in the use of recreational mud. Whilst I enjoy riding or walking in the countryside, I realise that its

SIR - Can I reassure Mr Nevitt (Herts Advertiser, March 18) that I do occasionally venture into the great outdoors and have even been known to indulge in the use of recreational mud.

Whilst I enjoy riding or walking in the countryside, I realise that its primary function is to produce food and, despite the best efforts of the present government to destroy rural England, it remains a place where people live and work.

I note that he lives several miles from Heartwood Forest and I have to say I am most impressed by his ability to read the minds of those of us who actually reside in the immediate area.

Presumably he has either carried out extensive canvassing or has psychic powers.

I am sure the opinion polls could make use of his talents in the run-up to the election.

Mr Nevitt has misunderstood the points made in my previous letter. The Forestry Commission gave the Woodland Trust permission to plant trees on land previously in agricultural use.

This is totally unrelated to the planning permission required for any form of development which impacts on the surrounding area. The Environmental Statement was produced for the Forestry Commission and was certainly not readily forthcoming for other interested parties.

As a county committee member of a national organisation with a major interest in access to the countryside, I can assure you that we had the greatest difficulty obtaining a copy, despite several requests to the Woodland Trust.

There was certainly no public consultation in the generally accepted sense.

The so-called consultations carried out by Woodland Trust were primarily fundraising events, involving a good deal of spin and misleading propaganda but at no point did anyone actually ask local residents whether they were in favour of the development of Hill End Farm as a visitor attraction.

I agree that the local dog walkers or ramblers who visit the site for an hour or two have no need for facilities, but the Woodland Trust is actively trying to attract large numbers of visitors from a considerable catchment area.

Perhaps their publicity should state that potential visitors must have a strong bladder.

RHODA HARRISON

Eastmoor Park, Harpenden

SIR - In response to recent missives on this subject, it seems there is somewhat of a clash of opinions on the growth of Heartwood Forest.

There are worries about food production, access, facilities and also rights of way.

It may not be entirely practical for people to walk a half mile to local facilities.

Pub goers or not, it is good that at least one establishment has opened its doors for those needing to spend a penny, for free.

Food production in the UK is unlikely to be threatened by this venture, especially in consideration of how much food is currently wasted.

Access is a difficult issue and one which surely was dealt with during the consultation process.

Rights of way should not be a problematic issue, as these are legal entities and are well monitored by Hertfordshire County Council.

My personal credentials of "nature", in short, are supported by an environmental BSc and first-hand experience working as a conservation ranger in village locations, which also helped local communities and schools.

A central hub could well be a good idea - with a couple of classrooms and washroom facilities, but I understand that this is not to be developed as a field centre. It is to be a forest.

On investigation, I find that temporary toilet facilities will be available during the planting season and at forthcoming events for those that require them.

It is great that so many people have already been involved in this, getting exercise, actively learning about the natural world we all live in, exploring local areas and as importantly, acting together in a real community manner.

STEPHEN CHAPMAN

Ash Grove, Wheathampstead

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