Climate emergency means Thornbury wood must be saved from destruction

November 28 2019
Climate emergency means Thornbury wood must be saved from destruction

CAMPAIGNERS against proposals to destroy a woodland in Thornbury to make way for a care home are calling for the plans to be scrapped in the light of the climate emergency.

Thornbury Community Composting, which operates in Vilner Lane Wood, says the plans have been superseded by South Gloucestershire Council’s commitment to responding to the climate emergency, which all parties agreed earlier this year.

The plans were originally approved five years ago and recently a single developer has shown interest in building the care home.

But the composting group members argue that there is now sufficient care home provision, its group could face closure, and there is now interest from a forest school which wishes to use the wood. It has initiated a petition which has over 200 signatures.

The small 1.8 acre woodland runs alongside a footpath between Tesco and the community compost site in the Thornbury Leisure Centre car park. It is full of wildlife, insects, and many different species of tree and shrub.

Jerry Dicker, founder of the composting site and an arboriculturist, said: “Here we are complaining about rainforests being cut down and we say they are just doing it for money - well, they are doing that here!

"It’s only a small wood but it is a valuable link – it is a wildlife corridor connecting gardens with the fields, woodlands and hedgerows in the surrounding countryside. Bats, hedgehogs, newts, frogs, stoats and weasels need to be able to travel.

We recognise that the council has financial commitments but the climate emergency and the crisis in nature should be two of their financial commitments.”

The composting site was set up over 20 years ago to take residents’ garden waste. This is turned into compost and sold back to the community. Firewood is sold on Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons, raising essential funds to keep the project going.

Thornbury Composting chairman Brett Harrison said: “The consultation on Vilner Lane woodland made by South Glos in 2014 made no mention of any proposed sale of the Thornbury composting site. This would have been very unpopular then and, certainly, now. There is no democratic justification for this decision.”

Council cabinet member for corporate resources Ben Burton, who will make a decision on the site next year, said: “We recognise that a lot has changed over the past five years and we need to carefully reconsider whether the decision that was made in 2014 is still the best decision for today.

This will take some time, as there are numerous factors to take into account, including financial considerations, the needs and wishes of local residents and the wider community, the requirement for care home facilities, strategic planning, and any environmental impact especially considering the commitment to the climate emergency agenda.”

The petition can be found on the council's website here. It is open until next March.