Forest group fights M1 service station plans

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A group committed to protecting the region’s forests has become the latest organisation to object to controversial plans for an M1 service station on ancient woodland.

The South Yorkshire Forest Partnership is fighting the proposals by Extra Motorway Service Area for Smithy Wood, near Chapeltown.

Developers are seeking to build the motorway stop across 20 acres beside Smithy Wood near junction 35 of the M1.

Tom Wild, director of the partnership, said: “The scheme would lead to the irreplaceable loss of ancient woodland, a priority habitat which is under threat in England.

“We cannot state strongly enough that ancient woodland is an irreplaceable, precious resource that must be protected for current and future generations.

“We wish to see sustainable development in Sheffield and throughout South Yorkshire, and we would contend that despite the obvious economic impacts likely resulting, the proposed scheme does not entail sustainable development.”

He said that, if permission is granted, there should be a ‘very detailed and comprehensive approach’ to mitigating the loss of part of the ancient woodland.

The application has already been subject to hundreds of objections from local residents, environmental campaigners and MPs.

But the Forestry Commission has said the ancient woodland may actually be improved as a result of the development. It said plans to plant extra trees elsewhere to replace those that will be knocked down will actually increase the amount of native woodland in the area.

Developers say the service station is needed because M1 motorists currently have to drive 42 miles without a break.