Rambling groups representing thousands of local walkers have objected to plans to build a new M1 service station on ancient woodland.
The Sheffield Ramblers’ group has objected to the proposals for the £46m Extra service station at Smithy Wood near Chapeltown, along with the South Yorkshire and North-East Derbyshire branch of the walking association.
The controversial application for Junction 35 of the M1 - which developers say would create around 300 jobs - was submitted over two years ago and has attracted thousands of complaints.
Extra has also promised to plant 60,000 trees to outweigh the loss of the woodland they intend to remove to make way for the service station.
But Terry Howard, chairman of Sheffield Ramblers, said: “Smithy Wood is an ancient woodland which cannot be replaced or replicated by nature as they need hundreds, if not thousands of years.
“Ancient woodland cannot simply be replaced by planting trees to compensate.
“Smithy Wood is also an area of cultural heritage interest, not just to Sheffield but to South Yorkshire, in early mining and charcoal production.”
Allen Pestell, chairman of the South Yorkshire and North-East Derbyshire Ramblers, said he was speaking on behalf of the group’s 2,000 members.
He said: “Smithy Wood is an ancient area of woodland, a sad remnant of what it once was.
“However what is left well deserves to be protected.
“It contains some of our most precious woodland habitats and is home to many species of rare wildlife.
“A single tree can host well over 200 types of life.
“There are also rare and unique funghi - none of this can be replaced by simply creating a new woodland area.
“Smithy Wood is unique with its own environment, cultural history and wildlife. For all these reasons, we consider it to be irreplaceable.”