What will happen to this ancient woodland if quarry goes ahead?
PUBLISHED: 08:20 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:15 16 January 2020
A bid to renew a quarry in the middle of woods has prompted fears it could damage ancient woodland.
Building materials company Cemex Materials UK Ltd is hoping to extract sand and gravel from within Mileplain Plantation, a woodland area off Reepham Road in Attlebridge.
But conservation charity the Woodland Trust said Mileplain Plantation "will suffer direct loss" if the plans are approved.
Norfolk County Council said the current planning application seeks to renew permission to continue quarrying at the site.
A council spokesman said: "An archaeological investigation has been called for as part of the planning process.
"The impact on archaeology and woodland areas will fully be taken into account when it is determined, which is likely to be during spring this year."
Ancient woodland is defined as an irreplaceable habitat dating back to at least the 1600s and is afforded some protection by the government.
Cemex Materials has proposed to plant trees in a 15-metre barrier between the quarry site and woodland to act as a buffer.
The council's natural environment team raised no objections to the plans, stating the proposed 15m buffer was "appropriate" to protect the ancient woodland.
But an historic environment officer from the council raised concerns that there could be buried archaeological remains at the site, after an Iron Age coin was discovered close to the proposed quarry.
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The site falls under Broadland District Council, which has also voiced concerns over the ancient woodland.
In a letter to the county council, the Broadland planning committee suggested areas where some ancient woodland has already been removed should be replanted.
The Woodland Trust said there are 1,064 ancient woods in the UK at risk from housing, infrastructure and other developments, and cited Mileplain Plantation as one example.
It is the first time the number of woods at risk in the UK has topped the thousand mark since the charity started compiling data in 1999.
Director of conservation and external affairs Abi Bunker said: "Ancient woodland is one of our most precious natural habitats; these complex ecosystems have evolved over centuries and are home to thousands of species, many of which rely on it for their survival.
"Losing ancient woodlands is a travesty, especially to inappropriate developments that could go elsewhere."
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