The expansion of a golf club near St Albans and Hemel Hempstead would "ruin a woodland stronghold for rare butterflies", according to conservationists.

Butterfly Conservation - a charity with the aim of protecting the animal across the UK - have warned that the Centurion Club's planning application for 10 addition holes would put two colonies of the White Admiral butterfly at risk.

However, the golf club has affirmed that "no evidence of the White Admiral has been found" at the site.

Malcolm Hull, chair of the charity's Hertfordshire and Middlesex branch, said: "White Admirals have been known in this wood for at least ten years, and there were good numbers last summer.  

Herts Advertiser: The White Admiral butterfly, threatened by the Centurion Club's expansion.The White Admiral butterfly, threatened by the Centurion Club's expansion. (Image: Butterfly Conservation)

"The club's ecology report that tries to justify this expansion does not even mention them.  

"This species has complex habitat requirements, which is why it is only present in a few woods.

 "I am appalled that an excellent site for these wonderful insects could be sacrificed just to allow a golf club to get a bit bigger.

"The club claims it will mitigate the environmental harm with its action plan, but they can't possibly mitigate harm to a highly specialised butterfly they are not even aware of.

"We strongly urge the council to reject this application. "

Herts Advertiser: Over 1,800 trees are located on the land.Over 1,800 trees are located on the land. (Image: Quantum Golf / St Albans City & District Council)

A draft proposal - included within the Centurion Club's application - would see 188,604sqm of the 359,788sqm of woodland at the site removed, equalling 52 per cent in total.

Over 1,800 trees are located on the land of the proposed development.

When approached for comment, the club's general manager Michael Duffy said: "Over the last 24 months we have worked closely with consultants GWP, Forbes Laird Arboricultural, together with Aspect Ecology and Aspect Landscape who have provided us with detailed and comprehensive ecological and tree surveys.

Herts Advertiser: The proposed holes at the Centurion Club, between Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.The proposed holes at the Centurion Club, between Hemel Hempstead and St Albans. (Image: Quantum Golf / St Albans City & District Council)

"During this period no evidence of the white admiral has been found.

"A complete tree survey of the woodland has been undertaken and our plans avoid the removal of veteran or grade A trees.

"Only 8 per cent of grade B trees are due for removal and 17 per cent of grade C trees, principally from a commercial larch woodland.


"Our current plans include planting of a further 26,000 indigenous trees and plants on the new woodland area.

"We encourage people to review fully the reports, surveys and planning documents which are available through the planning portal."

The Centurion Club's plans can be viewed by using reference 5/2023/2112 on the St Albans City & District Council planning portal.