MPs join fight against South Yorkshire motorway stop

Members of the Woodland Trust lead a protest at Smithy Wood
Members of the Woodland Trust lead a protest at Smithy Wood
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Two more MPs have joined the fight against plans to stop a £40 million motorway service station being built on an 800-year-old woodland.

David Blunkett and Paul Blomfield have both registered official objections to the plans for Smithy Wood near Chapeltown to the north of Sheffield.

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith and Rotherham MP Sarah Champion have already objected to the plans for the site by Extra Motorway Service Area.

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

Hundreds of campaigners have already submitted objections, while a petition against the proposal, organised by the Woodland Trust, has been signed by 6,000.

Brightside and Hillsborough MP Mr Blunkett said: “I do not believe that this application is needed, that it will work for the betterment of the area or that it meets the exceptional conditions that are required to develop in the green belt.

“In essence, it is a commercial development which involves the destruction of a precious habitat which is becoming increasingly hard to find in the UK.”

Central MP Mr Blomfield said the ancient woodland ‘is of immense ecological value’ and needs protecting.

“The application is based on a spurious needs case and would also have a detrimental traffic impact upon the local area and create additional air quality problems,” he said.

“For these reasons, and above all for the fact that we must protect our ancient woodland I urge that this application is refused.

“You can’t put a price tag on such a unique habitat and once it is gone, it is lost forever.”

The site would include a petrol station, hotel and parking for more than 500 vehicles.

Developers say about 450 jobs would be created during the construction phase, and up to 300 permanent jobs once the site opened.

They say it is needed because drivers have to travel up to 42 miles on the M1 without a stop.