New Center Parcs would ‘tear heart out of’ ancient woodland, experts warn

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Environmental experts said the development would destroy habitat and ‘open the floodgates for damage to ancient woodlands elsewhere' (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Environmental experts said the development would destroy habitat and ‘open the floodgates for damage to ancient woodlands elsewhere' (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Plans for a new Center Parcs in Sussex would “tear the heart out” of irreplaceable ancient woodland, environmental activists have said. 

The £350m holiday village near Crawley would include accommodation, restaurants and a swimming complex.

But conservation and wildlife charities including RSPB and the Woodland Trust have spoken out against the proposal. 

The development “would tear the heart out of Oldhouse Warren's irreplaceable ancient woodland” resulting in “irreversible loss of habitat for wildlife”, the groups, which also include the Sussex Wildlife Trust, CPRE Sussex and Sussex Ornithological Society, said in a joint letter.

Dan Osborn, chairman of CPRE Sussex, said: “Felling ancient woodland and displacing some of our rarest birds would be bad enough anywhere, it is even worse done in the heart of the High Weald national landscape.

”The proposals fly in the face of everything we are told about the need to reduce our carbon emissions, and run counter to Government objectives for the restoration and expansion of our natural habitats and biodiversity for our, and their, long-term health and wellbeing.“

Jenny Scholfield, South East regional director for the Woodland Trust, warned that the development could ”open the floodgates for damage to ancient woodlands elsewhere“.

Defending the plans, a Center Parcs spokesperson said ”detailed ecological surveys“ are underway and it takes its responsibility to the environment and forests ”extremely seriously“.

They added: ”We have more than 30 years' experience of sensitively managing the woodlands in which our villages are located, carefully nurturing and maintaining the forests to protect and enhance biodiversity.

“Our approach to this development will be a collaborative one, working with the local authority, local community and with all groups that have a specific interest in the site.”

Additional reporting by PA

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