Environmental watchdog/government advisory body Natural England has expressed concerns over the threat to Sherwood Forest`s ancient oaks posed by Nottinghamshire`s last operational pit, Thoresby Colliery in Edwinstowe, which is operated by UK Coal.
A change in the law introduced in the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, which came into effect during April of this year, means that UK Coal now have to apply for planning permission for work they had already begun, which in this case involves mining under Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) at Birklands and Bilhaugh, home of the historic Major Oak and also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI).
Natural England argue that the site, which is protected under both UK and European law, could be adversely affected by subsidence as a result of the deep mining operation.
Voluntary group Friends of Sherwood Forest have expressed similar concerns.
UK Coal accept there are valid concerns over the trees and state "that`s why we have gone the extra mile to satisfy environmental concerns." In fairness to them, it should be pointed out that the work will be 700 metres below the surface.
Nottinghamshire County Council Planning Officers are expected to recommend approval of the plans, saying there is "no evidence" to show the effect on trees would be significant and pointing out that there are no records of damage from historical working. Surveys identify 40 trees in the area which could be affected by ground cracking, but indicate that is unlikely any would fall. It is suggested that even if some did, the number of trees affected would be below the 1% figure which Natural England would consider unacceptable.
Pretty much everything in this posting comes from the following article ;
Jon Robinson - Ancient Oaks `Under Threat from Mining`, Nottingham Evening Post, Tuesday 8 June 2010 . Mr Robinson`s article also appears at www.thisisnottingham.co.uk under the revised heading Watchdog Warns Mine May Damage Sherwood`s Ancient Oaks.
My account is quite heavily shortened and paraphrased. For a fuller account of the controversy, you may wish to see the original, or of course visit the websites of the various bodies concerned.
FOOTNOTE / DIGRESSION
Although not connected with the Sherwood Forest controversy, another interesting article in the same issue of the Evening Post is ;
Paul Wilson - Growing More Food Has To Become Our Number One Priority, which also appears on the thisisnottingham site under a changed header, Dr Paul Wilson on Climate Change. Wilson`s article in many ways echoes Tony Stace`s What Use is the Green Belt which you will find at www.rushcliffegreenfields.co.uk/links.shtml .