Save Hopwas Woods by Alvecote Wood owner Sarah Walters


in Local Campaigns

Sarah Walters owns and manages Alvecote in Tamworth with her husband Stephen. This year they won the Royal Forestry Society’s award for Best Small Woodland in England. Today Sarah popped into local Hopwas Wood to photograph the deep beauty of this precious ancient woodland under threat from quarrying. 

Please sign this petition started by the Save Hopwas Woods campaigners

There is also a petition on Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher’s  website that you can sign too!


I am not entirely sure what is difficult to understand about the word “irreplaceable” when applied to ancient woodland. But here we have another ancient woodland under threat.  The Woodland Trust have called it the worst threat to an ancient woodland they have ever seen and have vowed to fight this proposal.

If you look at the Tamworth area on DEFRA’s MAGIC mapping system ( , you will see that there is precious little ancient woodland. Tiny fragments remain, of which the largest is Hopwas Woods, part of which is ancient woodland and part of which is ancient re-planted woodland or PAWS.

This woodland is part-owned by the Ministry of Defence, and part by Lafarge Tarmac. Access is via public bridleways, and the woods have been and continue to be enjoyed by a large number of local residents for walking, running, training, mountain biking, dog-walking and wildlife-watching.


But now there is a threat thanks to Staffordshire County Council review of the Minerals Core Strategy and Local Minerals Plan, which is currently undergoing revision. Following a consultation on the draft plan in April 2014, which had already identified reserves of sand and gravel sufficient to meet statutory requirements, contributions were invited from developers for additional sites for sand and gravel extraction, and these include a proposal by Lafarge Tarmac to destroy a large proportion of Hopwas Woods for quarrying. Virtually all of the proposed affected area is ancient woodland or PAWS, despite the developer claiming that this designation affects only half the proposed site.


The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) clearly states that –

planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss”

So what we have is a proposal for extraction of sand and gravel that is not actually needed, from an important ancient woodland site, that is widely valued and used by the local community, that is home to important wildlife including European Protected Species (otters). Obviously this site does not meet the planning criteria applied to ancient woodland.


But more than that, it will rip out the heart of a wildlife and local community with knock-on effects for wildlife in the whole area. The Lawton Report clearly identified the need for landscape-scale conservation, a patchwork of habitats, and wildlife corridors. Wildlife from the vanishingly-small pieces of ancient woodland in the Tamworth area has nowhere else to go. Lose Hopwas Woods and we lose far more than the woods alone – we lose an absolutely vital link in the local wildlife community. 

And there are the people. People who grew up walking in the woods, enjoying the public rights of way therein. People who learned to love nature by spending time in the woods as children. People who enjoy walking, running, mountain biking, horse riding and other activities in the woods. People who connect with the local landscape, appreciate it, care for it, and who have taken it to their hearts.


The local community is not taking this lightly. In 24 hours, a new Facebook page, Save Hopwas Woods, got almost 7000 followers. The Friends of Hopwas Woods have issued a document detailing the plans and how you can object. Objections can be lodged on the Staffordshire County Council web site. The campaign has engaged the local MP and local Mayor.

Ancient woodland is irreplaceable, and this campaign must succeed. The plan to tear up this ancient woodland is all about profit. It is about taking away a resource from local wildlife and community and putting it in the hands of developers. The consultation is open until December 5th. It needs to be stopped.


Please see:


All photographs in this article are here by kind permission of Sarah.

Read more articles by Sarah –



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Sarah Walters October 25, 2014 at 20:10

Please note there is now a petition on to save these woods

Pip Howard October 26, 2014 at 10:34

A perfect storm resulting from the looseness in the NPPF, the thinking in regards Biodiversity Offsetting and of course problems that will be caused by the Infrastructure Bill. The incredible rapid local action against such plans illustrate just why this ‘red Tory’ thinking simply won’t work in the UK – only creating more costs for everyone particularly the electorate.

SaveOurWoods October 27, 2014 at 11:51

the local campaign is amazing! many thousands of folk are supporting them on social media and they managed to get the Woodland Trust involved too. So inspiring!

Ashley October 26, 2014 at 12:44

I do not live in the area but still I have signed both petitions. It is vital that everyone should object to the destruction of our remaining natural environment.

SaveOurWoods October 27, 2014 at 11:53

Couldn’t agree more Ashley. An ancient woodland, no matter how far away it is from your house is irreplaceable and precious. Protecting them is protecting our entire country’s environmental resilience and social well being.
No matter where you live, everyone should support this campaign!

phil newton October 30, 2014 at 09:32

How can we bring up children to read and exercise their imaginations
then explore the reality[not virtual] of their global inheritance
with tales of Harry Potter, Robin Hood, Beatrix Potter, Brothers Grimm,
Enid Blighton,Billy Bunter,Kidnapped,Treasure Island,39 Steps,Railway Children,The Soldiers Tale,King Arthur etc ,
-Can we name many stories with out reference to a tree ?
If this happens then are we in the boiling frog awarenesssyndrome? Incrementally the heat [unconventional energy] is turned up and up as trees fall and fall?

phil newton October 30, 2014 at 09:34

see my earlier sumission

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