Save The Darwin Oak
Save The Darwin Oak
Why this petition matters
We, the undersigned, call upon Shropshire Council to shelve plans to fell the Darwin Oak, a 550-year-old, open-grown, ancient oak tree threatened with felling by a proposed new road scheme known as the North West Relief Road at Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
If the expensive and rushed-through road scheme is approved (even with over 5,000 objections), there is plenty of scope at this early development stage to move, at little or no cost, the proposed carriageway and save this culturally significant ancient oak tree.
This would result in the preservation of one of the most significant ‘Natural Monuments’ in Shropshire.
Even as an eight-year-old, Charles Darwin – born nearby at The Mount - already had a taste for natural history and collecting. He walked extensively along the banks of the River Severn and the bucolic lanes and fields around Shelton Rough. It is hard to believe that he would not have known the already-aged and significant landmark oak tree (350 years old by then). Almost certainly, he would have sat under or even clambered up the spreading boughs of this majestic ancient oak tree, perhaps contemplating his future famous scientific works.
It is widely accepted that large-canopy, open-grown trees like the Darwin Oak sequester way more CO2 than thousands of saplings that will most probably die from lack of aftercare, as has been clearly demonstrated on recent large infrastructure projects like HS2 and the Cambridge A14 road upgrade project.
The road will decimate one of the last vestiges of beautiful countryside extending almost to the heart of the county town and widely known as Shrewsbury’s ‘Green Wedge’.
People from Shropshire, across England and indeed the wider world are aware that sustainability has always been the central organising principle of the UK Government.
The proposed felling of numerous veteran trees, hundreds of further trees and the Darwin Oak now goes against the government’s own National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
It also flies in the face of their ’Keepers of Time’ policy, which states that
“The value of ancient and native woodlands and ancient and veteran trees England’s ancient and native woodlands and ancient and veteran trees support high levels of biodiversity. They are home to a quarter of England’s priority species for conservation. They also deliver many ecosystem services including water and soil regulation, carbon storage, support for people’s wellbeing and their long-standing cultural values.”
At a time of a climate emergency, this all adds up to a massive loss of much-needed biodiversity, a significant loss of carbon sequestration capability, and a loss of much-needed green space used for exercise and the wellbeing of residents. Along with increased air pollution (respiratory illnesses), noise pollution, visual impacts and the frightening possibility of Shrewsbury’s drinking water supply becoming polluted - as highlighted by the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Waters concerns - the case for the road seems flawed.
The safeguarding of The Darwin Oak as part of the North West Relief Road scheme will demonstrate the UK Government and Shropshire Council’s commitment to preserving our birthright for the well-being of future generations.
For further information on this scheme:
Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST) is an alliance of local organisations and individuals.