Developer accused of shunning Sheffield public meeting

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Campaigners fighting plans to build a motorway service station on ancient Sheffield woodland have blasted developers for failing to turn up to a public meeting.

The Woodland Trust have claimed they were snubbed Extra Motorway Services, the firm behind proposals to build M1 services on Smithy Wood near Chapeltown.

More than 100 members of the public turned out to the trust’s meeting to voice their concerns and hear from a panel of experts on wildlife, ecology, politics and the local area.

Panel members questioned the need for a service area that would concrete over the wood, which records show as being in existence for at least a millennium.

But Extra Motorway Services failed to show up for the meeting despite an invitation well in advance.

Campaign leader Oliver Newham, of the Woodland Trust, said: “It was excellent to see so many people standing up for ancient woodland with a real understanding of what it would mean to lose this precious and irreplaceable habitat. “We are obviously disappointed the developer chose not to send a representative, especially given their initial interest in openly consulting and their stated desire to ‘develop strong and positive links with local people’.

“However, we continue to be optimistic that the developer will take account of the fact that people care passionately about this issue.”

The Woodland Trust’s petition has collected 2,600 signatures asking for the motorway service station to be built elsewhere.

Extra Motorway Services argues there is a need for services there as drivers were having to go up to 42 miles without the chance to stop.

A formal planning application has yet to be submitted.