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PROPOSED SUBMISSION LOCAL PLAN 2006-2028 - Aug 12

Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Woodlands and Forest

12.59 South Somerset has only 5% coverage of woodland, which is significantly below the County average of 9%. This is a reflection of the rolling lowland character of the District, where good soils have led to the land being cleared for agriculture over past centuries. There are a few exceptions to this such as the Eastern scarp boundary, which is well wooded, the hills East of Bruton, South of Crewkerne and the edge of the Blackdown Hills around Chard. Over the remainder hedgerow trees, small copses and locally significant old orchards, often on the edge of villages, dominate the landscape. Significant linear woodlands such as those along the Fivehead and Somerton ridges also define the Western edge of the District. These both have a high proportion of Ancient Woodland[1].

12.60 Traditional old orchards and veteran trees are important features of the region providing good habitats for wildlife. The Regional Woodland and Forestry Framework (RWFF)[2] is the regional expression of Government policy on woodland and forest setting out what is needed to help secure the future of these assets.

12.61 Areas of woodland should be expanded where appropriate and as indicated in the RWFF, to support other habitats, act as carbon sinks, enhance landscape character and as a key part of providing green infrastructure in and around new development. Any unavoidable loss of woodland should be replaced via agreements with developers and other mechanisms. The removal and management of trees and woodland may be necessary where this is needed to meet conservation objectives for open habitats, such as heathland and grassland.

12.62 Sustainable tourism development opportunities presented by woodlands and forests should be promoted, particularly in rural areas.  The wider economic use of woodlands and forests should also be promoted, for example with regards to wood fuel. The procurement of locally grown timber products to the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS)[3]should be supported, particularly in relation to development, in order to achieve improved sustainability of construction and in support of local supply chains.

Policy EQ6: Woodland and Forests

South Somerset District Council will support the implementation of the South West Woodland and Forestry Framework, ensuring the environmental, social and economic value and character of the district’s trees, woods and forests are protected and enhanced in a sustainable way. Woodland areas, including ancient and semi-natural woodland should be maintained at least at 2005 levels and expanded where possible to provide a buffer to core areas of woodland.

The loss of ancient and woodland as well as ancient or veteran trees should be protected against loss wherever possible. Where secondary woodland is unavoidably lost through development it should be replaced with appropriate new woodland on at least the same scale.
 
Delivery

12.63 It is anticipated that the forthcoming Green Infrastructure Strategy will identify specific actions for the short, medium and long term, including the provision of additional woodland areas.

12.64 In conjunction with the aims and objectives of the Green Infrastructure Policy and consideration of individual planning applications, care should be taken to ensure existing woodland is not lost through development.

12.65 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy EQ6:

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Developers and Landowners. 
 
Monitoring Indicators Target
Levels of woodland and forest within the District There should be no net losses of woodland or forests due to development
Number of planning application requiring the planting of additional woodland Net increase in woodland in the District
1. Ancient woodland is defined as land continually wooded since at least AD1600, Natural England and Woodland Trust [back]
2. South West regional Woodland and Forestry Framework: South West England Forestry Commission, 2005 [back]
3. The UK Woodland Assurance Standard was developed by a group of forestry and environmental organisations to provide a standard for certification relevant to UK woodlands and which satisfies the standards required by both the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Pan European Forest Certification (PEFC) [back]