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The Following text is complete unabridged copy taken from the BBC Wales Website. It is a summary of an article broadcast on the Politics Show Wales on Sunday 21 November. Our thanks to the BBC for permission to reproduce this article.

Wales: Woodland for sale


Carl Roberts
Politics Show Wales


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For sale: are planning safeguards in place?

You may have seen signs advertising woodland for sale recently. Hundreds of acres of woodland across Wales are being divided up and sold as smaller plots.

But campaigners in Monmouthshire are worried about this development. They are asking their local council to apply legislation to protect their local woodland.

The company selling NineWells Wood in the Wye Valley near Monmouth is

They say demand for private woodland is steady and increasing.

Woodlands claim that more and more people want to get close to nature and help manage the countryside.

Their website explains that buyers can build sheds or use containers for forestry work.

But local people are worried about the effect on this area of outstanding natural beauty, and want to make sure that the planning system is sufficient to protect it.

Campaign highlighted


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Huw Edwards, MP, supported the campaign in Parliament

The MP for Monmouth Huw Edwards raised the campaigners concerns in Parliament, and he thinks they have highlighted an issue which could have UK wide implications.

Mr Edwards said: "The planning system has not yet responded to the threat to the environment and especially here in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which does have protection.

"There has been great concern about agricultural land in England but the same principles apply to woodland and it is these people in this area who have identified the threat".

In England the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister issued guidance to councils encouraging them to take pre-emptive measures to ensure that woodland owners would need planning permission to carry out any work on their plots. The technical term for this move is an Article Four Directive.

Campaigners objectives

This is what the campaigners in Monmouthshire want implemented with regard to their favourite woodland.


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Brian Ruddy is prodding the Welsh Assembly Government into action

Brian Ruddy is one of the campaigners.

He said: "The problem in this county appears to be that the council only wants to act after the event when a breach of planning permission has taken place.

"We know in England a number of councils have issued Article 4 Directives, 16 in one case, to prevent the development taking place in the first place and that is what we are after.

"We have been trying to prod the Welsh Assembly Government into action for some little time.

"We have been told they are about to take action but the wheels of God and the Welsh Assembly move mightily slowly sometimes".

A spokesperson for the Environment and Planning Minister Carwyn Jones said that the sub-division of woodlands is not currently seen as a widespread problem in Wales.

As a precaution his officials will "issue local planning authorities with a letter reminding them of their powers in this area as soon as is practically possible".

Disappearing woodland?

John Brown lives opposite Nine Wells Wood, and he fears unless planning protection is put in place there will not be much woodland left in a few years.

"If the owners exercise their rights as they are now, in terms of cropping timber for themselves, the effect at most could be that within two years the woodland could be felled piece meal.

"In turn the wildlife that exists within this woodland would be totally destroyed or disturbed and many species which are extremely rare which frequent these woodlands would in fact disappear" were unable to give an interview to the Politics Show but a spokesman said that sub-dividing woodland represents a "progressive distribution of ownership away from big landowners" and that "the company is privileged to be part of that process".

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