15 reasons for FC to say No
Top Forestry Commission (FC) managers decide which of OUR public woodlands they think have potential as Forest Holidays (FH) sites. They don't consult with their stakeholders as they make these decisions, but here's a handy summary of why Fineshade is not suitable for holiday development.
1. European-level protected species.
Dormice are certainly present close to the proposed development area and are probably distributed within it. (Results of the dormouse survey carried out for FH in 2015 are still being withheld from FC and public scrutiny.) Great Crested Newts are also present.
2. Adders and other reptiles
These are widespread in Fineshade Wood making it, in the opinion of leading ecologists, one of Eastern England’s most important reptile communities. Increased vehicle access and new tracks necessary for a holiday development would clearly have an adverse effect. (Results of the reptile survey carried out for FH in 2015 are still being withheld.)
3. Other threatened species
Significant bats, butterflies, badgers, birds and plants are present and many of these are threatened species. (Results of the relevant surveys carried out for FH in 2015-16 are still being withheld.)
4. Worthy of SSSI status
National and local ecologists have made a strong case that Fineshade Wood’s rich biodiversity make it worthy of status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
5. Natural England support
NE’s Chief Executive has recognized that “Fineshade Wood is a wonderful place for wildlife” and NE have placed the wood on their list of sites for possible future designation as a SSSI.
6. Ancient Woodland
Since Fineshade’s original listing on the Exclusivity List in 2012 and following an intervention by the Woodland Trust, new areas of the wood have been properly surveyed and are now recognized by Natural England and FC as Ancient Woodland.
7. Back from the Brink project
Fineshade is the centre for the Rockingham Forest part of this high-profile project. The extinct Chequered Skipper butterfly is being reintroduced and a range of other threatened species being monitored. FC are committed to this project which is totally incompatible with holiday development.
8. Further Planning Policy protection
Since the last FH/FC application was overturned, a new local planning policy has taken effect on this part of Northants. This policy places Fineshade within an “Area of Tranquillity” giving further protection against holiday development.
9. Unsuitable access
There is already inadequate vehicle access to Fineshade. At peak times the single-track lane to Top Lodge becomes gridlocked, a fact recognized by local FC staff, residents and day visitors alike. Additional traffic caused by holiday development would be intolerable for all.
10. Blanket local opposition
There was complete opposition to previous applications from local communities and their elected representatives of all parties. All the local Parish Councils, the entire District Council, our County Council representative and our MP have all made clear their opposition to holiday development here. There was no support for the proposal from any local businesses or individuals.
11. FC national reputation
Fineshade enjoys far more than local support. National figures in the conservation world, national media and national wildlife NGOs oppose a decision by FC to renew the threat to the wood. Such a decision would have a significant further adverse effect on the FC’s reputation.
12. Green amenity and infrastructure
The nearby growing urban communities see Fineshade as a green amenity for quiet relaxation which would be ruined by holiday accommodation. The wood lies at the junction of two Green Infrastructure Corridors.
13. 38-degrees petition
The petition "Forest Privatisation by the back door", started by a Fineshade resident, recently reached 5600 signatures.
14. Dark Skies
There is potential for Fineshade Wood to be designated as a Dark Skies Discovery Site. Friends of Fineshade along with representatives of the Commission for Dark Skies are keen to work with FC in developing a nomination.
15. Relations with stakeholders
Removing the threat to Fineshade Wood once and for all would be an indication that FC wishes to repair the soured relations between themselves and their stakeholders - Fineshade residents, the surrounding village communities and the wider public.