Wildlife experts object to holiday chalet plans for forest
Wildlife experts have raised concerns about plan to build on forestry land on the south Shropshire/Herefordshire border which is home to a number of protected species.
Forestry Holidays is proposing to build 68 holiday chalets in the Mortimer Forest.
The Shropshire and Herefordshire branches of the Wildlife Trust has now said it cannot support the plans because of the impact on wildlife.
A joint statement said: "Based on the information we currently have, we do not support the proposal, and will be formally raising our concerns over the impact it could have on the wildlife of Mortimer Forest if and when Forest Holidays submit a planning application."
They said the area is home to several protected species, including wood white butterflies, great crested newts, adders, dormice, bats and goshawks.
It added: "Were a planning proposal to be submitted for this site by Forest Holidays, we would expect to see far more extensive and significant mitigation proposals."
The trust says an increase of visitors and dog walkers 24 hours a day will damage the immediate site of the cabins.
A petition against the plans has already attracted more than 3,000 signatures.
Green Party councillors in Herefordshire are also calling on the head of the Forestry Commission to halt the plans.
The Greens are asking commission chairman Sir Harry Studholme to intervene and scrap “damaging” plans which include luxury wooden homes and tree houses which come complete with outdoor hot tubs.
Leominster Green county councillor Jenny Bartlett said: "Mortimer Forest is a peaceful beauty spot much-loved by people throughout north Herefordshire, south Shropshire and beyond.
"It supports a tremendous variety of wildlife – this sprawling holiday park would destroy precious habitat.
"The Forestry Commission is approaching its centenary - in 2019 - and its chief, Sir Harry Studholme, recently publicly championed the commission's role ‘in safeguarding and protecting the Public Forest Estate now and for the next 100 years.’
“Well the plans for Mortimer Forest utterly conflict with that worthy objective. We call on the commission to abandon plans for such damaging development."
It is claimed that the project will create 43 full-time equivalent jobs, and estimates another 47 for the local economy as a result of a tourism boost worth £2.4 million per year.