Concerns for future of village woodland site

Protesters over plans to fell woodland at Longbury Hill Wood, Storrington SUS-171016-115457001
Protesters over plans to fell woodland at Longbury Hill Wood, Storrington SUS-171016-115457001

Concerns are growing over plans to build a new access road and hard-standing area on a village woodland site.

Julian Hanbury-Aggs is seeking planning permission from Horsham District Council for the access road at Longbury Hill Wood off Rock Road, Storrington, to ‘harvest and extract timber.’

But worried residents fear that thousands of Scots pine trees are to be felled and that the works will lead to increased traffic in the area, noise and air pollution and that it would be detrimental to wildlife.

Some are also concerned that re-planting might not take place and that, eventually, the land could be used for housing.

However, Washington Parish Council says it is raising no objections to the proposals after noting that the tree felling is subject to licensing from the Forestry Commission and is conditional on the felled areas being re-stocked.

But dozens of nearby residents remain concerned and have submitted protest letters to the district council.

They say that Storrington already suffers from poor air quality because of heavy traffic and this could worsen if the woodland - which acts as a buffer - were felled.

They say that the proposed access route is approaching a blind road summit where cars already speed. And they fear the access might prove attractive to flytippers and travellers.

Alistair Nicholls, of Hampers Lane, Storrington, said: “It’s clear from being a regular road user along Rock Road that heavy goods vehicles of the type used for timber removal are not appropriate for this road. The blind summit is regularly ignored by car drivers who do not slow down.”

He added that a rapid and dramatic alteration of the woodland because of felling would have a serious effect on wildlife and called for multiple surveys to be undertaken.

“What is proposed looks like an excessive clearing, possibly as a precursor to something else.”

Another resident - Craig Theobold, of Rock Road - has also put forward strong objections. He said: “We are already subjected to traffic noise in what should be a quiet area. Having additional saw works, lorries, vans and other traffic, in addition to the impact of building the road and cutting down of the trees, and vibrations caused by the trucks running through the land, this level of noise will become intolerable.”

Former councillor Roger Arthur, who lives at Hollybank, said there would be severe disruption to traffic in the area.

He added: “Serious dust and noise will be generated in an area that is already affected by excess pollution, in addition to pollution from chemical spraying.

“There are no clear rationale for this work which will destroy (CO2 absorbing) woodland with over 1,000 trees, which has been a feature of this area for centuries.”