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Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place for the protection of woodland in (a) South Swindon constituency and (b) the Great Western Community Forest. (82415)

A number of measures are in place to protect woodlands in England including South Swindon and Great Western Community Forest. In particular the felling of woodland is controlled through the felling regulations. Additionally, many woodlands are subject to further controls where they lie within designated areas such as sites of special scientific interest or special areas of conservation.

Local planning authorities also have wide powers to protect trees and woodland by means of Tree Preservation Orders.

Where it is intended to fell trees and use the land for another purpose the proposals will be assessed under the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) Regulations and consent for felling under these regulations may also be required from the Forestry Commission.

Planning Policy Statement 9 says that, for areas of ancient woodland that do not benefit from statutory protection, planning permission should not be granted for any development that would result in its loss or deterioration unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location outweigh the loss of the woodland habitat.