Save Prehen Woods and Northern Ireland's ancient woodlands from being felled by developers

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On 5th Sept 2018  Derry City and Strabane District Council made a decision to permit the continued development of four luxury houses on a site at 400 year old Prehen Ancient Woodland near Derry Northern Ireland. This decision was made despite overwhelming evidence that the development should never have been approved.

Supporting this petition are:
Chris Packham, wildlife TV presenter, conservationist
Dame Judi Dench, Actress
Snow Patrol, Band
Rob MacFarlane, Author
Billy Doherty, drums - the Undertones 
Paul McLoone, vocals - The Undertones
Damian O'Neill, guitarist -The Undertones
John O'Neill, guitarist - The Undertones
Larry Mullen Jr, drums - U2
Andy McCluskey, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
James Nesbitt, Actor
Lisa McGee, creator of Derry Girls
Friends of the Earth

As wildlife TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham states:

‘This is not just about four houses and one beautiful old wood full of bluebells and wonderful wildlife - this is about a catastrophic failure in the accountability of politicians , greed and idiotic short-termism . We must preserve space , green space for the benefit of future generations , space which benefits our physical and mental health , space to ensure that we can retain the functional ecosystems we rely upon to produce our food and other resources . To progress here would spit in the face of democracy , tarnish the reputation of the council forever , ruin the sanctity of a precious part of our planet and set a precedent for a cascade of further abuses of power . I urge you to peacefully , politely but loudly protest against this development by signing this petition . Our wildlife needs us , and it needs us more than ever’

1. The Prehen development is seriously encroaching upon the only area of ancient woodland remaining in the city of Derry – which takes its name from the Irish word for Oak Tree – Doire.

2. It is being built in an area which is home to an endangered colony of red squirrels and also badgers, foxes, bats, sparrow hawks, jays and Long Eared Owls as well as bluebells, which are a protected species.

3. It is at an environmentally sensitive woodland site, the vast amount of which is outside the Derry Area Plan 2011 (zoned area for development).

4. A damming report by the Information Commissioner for Northern Ireland (March 2010) detailed the withholding of information by the Northern Ireland Planning Service to those objecting to the development.

5. An even more damming report by a senior planner from Wales, Mr John Davies MBE, BSc, MRTPI (2015) vindicated the Prehen group’s objections to the development and was highly critical of the NI Planning Service, highlighting improper practices and procedures, unfairness and incorrect decision making in the case.

6. The then Environment Minister issued a Ministerial Order in 2013 “that planning permission for site 1 is to be revoked” – a unique decision in NI Planning history. 

The development is proceeding after a long struggle by defenders of the environment led by the Prehen Historical and Environmental Society to work with local Planning. Those who have sought to protect the woodland are volunteers, including George McLaughlin, recently awarded the title of “Nature’s Keeper” by Friends of The Earth.

We call on Mr John Kelpie, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Katrina Godfrey, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure Northern Ireland, and Angus Kerr, Chief Executive Officer of The Planning Service Northern Ireland to change this approval and the systems and procedures to ensure that all of the last 0.08% of remaining woodland in Northern Ireland is given a protected status that cannot be undone by councillors, planners and ministers for any reason.

THIS CASE IS A MANIFESTATION OF A MUCH MORE SERIOUS PROBLEM IN THE PLANNING SYSTEM IN NORTHERN IRELAND, AND HAS POTENTIALLY ALARMING REPERCUSSIONS FOR WOODLANDS AND WILDLIFE HABITATS ACROSS THE UK AS A WHOLE. 

"I find it truly shocking that Derry City and Strabane District Council could vote to allow the destruction of the last ancient woodland in the City of Derry. We are all aware of the pressure that local councils face these days, but deliberately and systematically flouting the law is unacceptable.

In our frenzied technology-driven modern world, trees take on a vital role. Multiple studies confirm something that we already inherently know: “that which grows around us is good for us.” Trees made us feel good, and now there’s science backing up this phenomenon with verifiable evidence. Trees have healing powers. Prehen woods is a green oasis for the people of Derry. Don’t let that wondrous facility be slowly eroded.

And if you're wondering why an English pop musician cares. Apart from being a Woodland Trust member for 30 years, I am a McCluskey. We are Derry. They’re my trees too!"

Andy McCluskey, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

In Northern Ireland the planning system has no regard for those who genuinely care for the environment. Unless change is brought about the last tracts of ancient woodland in Northern Ireland will suffer the same fate as Prehen. The negative attitude of planners and developers cannot be allowed to continue.

Please sign this petition to protect Northern Ireland's ancient woodland.

 



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