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Fight for Bintree woods continues

PUBLISHED: 05:35 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:37 07 July 2010

Bintree Wood

Bintree Wood

Campaigners have been forced to re-launch their fight to save an area of important Norfolk woodland from being excavated for gravel after they discovered it could still be in danger.

Campaigners have been forced to re-launch their fight to save an area of important Norfolk woodland from being excavated for gravel after they discovered it could still be in danger.

Last year protesters representing a community living close to the Wensum Valley were delighted that Norfolk County Council listed the substantial Bintree Woods as “red” in a list of preferred Norfolk sites, indicating it was no longer being considered for excavation.

But they have discovered that the Forestry Commission has resubmitted the Bintree site at the last minute. The size of the site has been reduced and the landfill option was withdrawn.

According to the Combined Parishes Group, there is a real concern that the site could be consulted again later this year and may be considered suitable.

“This situation means that the local residents in the areas including Bintree, Billingford, North Elmham have a further one to two years of huge continued uncertainty over the future of their woodland, particularly as the county council have offered no reassurance that the site will remain red or unsuitable,” said group spokesman, Rebecca Haywood.

She has accused the Forestry Commission's adviser, Wardell Armstrong, of “dirty tricks” in deliberately trying to slip through the plans for the site at the last minute.

Mrs Haywood said that the way the issue has been handled has led many local people to believe there is no longer any risk to the woodland and failed to respond to the latest round of consultation.

She says the Norfolk county council, through the late revised submission of the site, will have created further uncertainty over the future, prolonging the already protracted decision-making process and cast doubt over the upon the fairness and transparency of the consultation process.

“We are confident that the same issues, including access and threat to the ecology of the Wensum Valley, that led to the rejection of the first proposal equally apply to the revised site,” she said.

A spokesman for the Forestry Commission said that following public concerns over the identification of Bintree Wood in its entirety, a reduced area was submitted to the county council by the FC's mineral agents.

The proposed area was reduced to reflect the likely area of working - excluding environmentally sensitive areas nearer the river Wensum and leaving a significant buffer zone against the village.

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