SIR, — Having written to the Woodland Trust to express my concern that only the able-bodied walker was allowed the opportunity to enjoy their newly acquired site at Sandridge, I was dismayed to receive the following reply: Woodland Trust sites are for qu
SIR, - Having written to the Woodland Trust to express my concern that only the able-bodied walker was allowed the opportunity to enjoy their newly acquired site at Sandridge, I was dismayed to receive the following reply:
"Woodland Trust sites are for quiet informal recreation. This obviously includes walking and, where possible, cycling and horse-riding. However, before any decisions can be made regarding accommodation of different user groups, we will be producing an Environmental Statement under the auspices of the Forestry Commission in line with the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England & Wales) Regulations 1999. This statement covers likely significant effects on human beings, flora, fauna, soil, water, air, climate landscape etc. First of all we shall be consulting with local organisations and individuals over our plans. It is a long consultation and planning process which is likely to continue through to the middle of 2009, after which we should be in a position to put forward a draft management plan for public consultation."
How does this equate with the promises made at the fund-raising meetings and in the promotional literature? At the initial meeting in Sandridge there was no "where possible" at all. Their first slide showed a very wide trail with horse riders, bikes and walkers. Horse riding was mentioned spontaneously and enlarged upon in response to question. All sounded very positive and there was no mention of Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, a long consultation and planning process or draft management plans. "Free access for all" was their cry when they were asking the public for donations - so we may well feel aggrieved by this deception. The existing horse-riding track around the site was for many years available for public use as a permissive ride, so their refusal to allow riders and cyclists access to this also refutes their boast that they have reopened the permissive tracks that previously existed.
One might have thought that had this project been properly researched they would have produced a draft management plan before commencing operations, but I'm rapidly getting the impression that the WT, though well-intentioned, appear to be making it up on the hoof. Perhaps the alarm bells should have started ringing when they kept talking about the excellent public transport links to the site.
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