Whether you’re from Sheffield or Barnsley, Rotherham or Doncaster, it is a truth universally acknowledged that South Yorkshire folk tell it as it is.
I’m not in the least bit surprised to find that the people of South Yorkshire have responded magnificently to the latest threat to our ancient woodland?
On March 25, 2014, Extra Motorway Services submitted a planning application to Sheffield Council for the establishment of a service station at J35a of the M1.
All well and good, you might think. What is there to dislike about providing an important service and creating jobs?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, because the development, if it is allowed to go ahead, will involve the destruction of some of Sheffield’s most valued and precious woodland habitat.
Smithy Wood, just above Chapeltown as you climb up towards Thorpe Hesley and Rotherham, is designated as ancient woodland. In other words, it has existed continuously since 1600 or before.
Smithy Wood is precious, just on these grounds alone. Too much of our ancient woodland has disappeared. We have to protect what is left and regenerate it wherever possible.
Extra is claiming that it can replace the woodland that would be lost to the development if it went ahead. But the simple fact is that ancient woodland, once destroyed, is destroyed forever. You cannot mitigate damage to ancient woodland. You cannot replace it by planting elsewhere.
That is why Sheffield planning department has been inundated with thousands of objections to the Extra development and I applaud those civic-minded citizens who have made their views known.
The Woodland Trust is fighting hard to save Smithy Wood and is working with Cowley Residents Action Group, a local campaign, to make the case against the development. At a time when the Trust is attempting to raise funds to protect and restore ancient woodland across the country, it is surely imperative that we secure a planning decision which protects our own precious piece of woodland here in Chapeltown.
You can do your bit too to help Save Smithy Wood, by writing to Sheffield City Council Planning department or by commenting online at the council’s website.