I see that MSA Extra, the company behind the proposal to ‘develop’ (ie. destroy) Smithy Wood have taken out a very large advert in your paper. I am writing in the hope of balancing this one-sided commercial interest.
MSA’s points are entirely spurious. For instance:
The managing of woodland is not an adequate ‘trade-off’ for the loss of irreplaceable ancient woodland.
The illustration in the paper shows the proposed MSA as being completely green which is very misleading. This application would involve cutting down a large part of the woodland and replacing it with Tarmac.
Smithy Wood is of cultural significance with historical records from the 12th century.
MSA Extra claim “business rates will help fund council services from 2020”.
A promise of business rates is not part of the planning decision and must not be used to justify an application. This is stated in Government guidance. Otherwise planning applications will always be approved for the highest bidder.
MSA Extra claim “new motorway service area can only go at Junction 35”.
Their own figures state that the numbers travelling A1/M18/M1 where there is a claimed ‘gap’ are small in relation to numbers travelling on the M1 which is already well served in this area. Significantly, a pre-application has been submitted by another commercial company (Applegreen) for an MSA at J33 of the M1 http://www.applegreenrotherham.info .
This totally undermines the argument that J35 is the only potential site in this area and undermines the argument of ‘very special circumstances’ to develop in the green belt.
The ‘need’ is not proven and the ‘benefits’ would not outweigh the loss of this ancient woodland and its value to wildlife and local people.
MSA Extra claim “hundreds of jobs and training opportunities to be created”.
We all want good jobs, the purpose of planning is to identify the most appropriate sites to provide those jobs. This isn’t one of them.
Smithy Wood is allocated as a Local Wildlife Site in the Green Belt to be protected. Adequate land for job creation has been identified elsewhere – in fact the Smithy Wood Business Park and adjacent brownfield site has been allocated for jobs and to encourage development as an Enterprise Zone.
Most of the jobs created will be low-paid jobs in retail, not the highly skilled jobs that the Sheffield City Region have been pushing for.
This plan would benefit only a handful of people and MSA themselves, and cause the irreplaceable loss of a beautiful and archaeologically valuable site.
Who in their right mind wants another motorway services, especially at this cost to the environment?