Park-and-ride service suggested as part of new forest project

PUBLISHED: 12:33 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:31 06 May 2010

A PARK-and-ride bus service could be the solution if people want to be involved in planting trees in a proposed new forest. That was one possibility to avoid nuisance or disruption during the planting of the new 850-acre native forest in Sandridge which w

A PARK-and-ride bus service could be the solution if people want to be involved in planting trees in a proposed new forest.

That was one possibility to avoid nuisance or disruption during the planting of the new 850-acre native forest in Sandridge which was suggested at a public meeting last week.

Sandridge Village Hall was packed to capacity during the public meeting organised by the Woodland Trust to discuss their plans to plant the history-making broadleaf woodland on farmland close to the village.

The scheme will cost £8.5 million in its first five years from a combination of site purchase, planting of native trees and management costs. The first £100,000 needs to be raised by the end of September.

More than 600,000 native trees will be planted on the site and the aim is to get children involved in that process.

The meeting was so crowded that several dozen people had to be turned away at the door but the trust is planning to hold further public consultation meetings very soon with another lined up in Sandridge together with meetings in Wheathampstead and Harpenden.

Woodland Trust project manager Toby Bancroft said: "The public reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Obviously people have concerns for such a big project close to their homes and the village.

"We were able to reassure the vast majority of those who attended that our commitment is to keep disruption to village life at a minimum while delivering the huge benefits that this new forest will bring for people and wildlife."

Together with the trust's regional development manager Nick Morgan, Toby presented the trust's plans for the site at the meeting before taking questions from the floor.

Topics ranged from when the trust would actually take ownership, access to the site and the linking of existing footpaths. People were also concerned about the impact on the village of the proposed public tree planting events and the number of people that might bring into the area.

Toby said: "Our immediate challenge is to raise the £8.5 million needed to buy the site, plant trees and manage it for the next five years. We can then start planning in details like access routes and will consult widely with local people."

He added: "The trust has a long and successful history of organising public tree planting events and we are confident that this can be managed without causing nuisance or disruption. This might be through a park-and-ride bus service for those wanting to come and plant trees with us."

He added: "Our plans are not to plant a thick blanket of forest but for native British broad-leaved trees to surround open spaces and wide pathways. This new forest will still make a splendid landscape and one that will really encourage a growth in wildlife.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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