Woodland Trust: New £30m JCB golf course is ‘unacceptable’
The Woodland Trust has said the new £30 million JCB golf course to be built in Staffordshire, which is set to be one of the best golf facilities in the world, will lead to an unacceptable loss of ancient woodland.
Work is due to start imminently on the 18-hole, 7,150 yards, par 72 championship golf course, which is due to open in 2018. The course, which will be made available mainly to JCB’s network of 770 global dealers, could host major tournaments and has been described as ‘the biggest marketing tool available to JCB in its history’.
However, environmental officers at both the Woodland Trust and the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust have urged JCB to reconsider plans for certain areas of the course which will currently destroy woodland, something they say is ‘easily avoidable’.
Kate Dewey of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust said: “Staffordshire Wildlife Trust strongly objects to the loss of 0.97 hectares of ancient woodland on the site.
“Is the need for, and benefits of, the precise position and design of the four fairways which impact on ancient woodland – holes 3, 11, 12 and 13 – are so essential that they outweigh this significant loss?
“Although we appreciate the desire to achieve a championship level course, we feel with some changes this could be done without these losses, and that the need for this exact design cannot be argued to outweigh the need to preserve this irreplaceable resource.”
The Trust also said though the proposals are positive in terms of habitat creation, the major impacts to ancient woodland are ‘unacceptable’ in terms of national policy.
Katharine Rist, campaigner at the Woodland Trust, added: “The Trust continues to object to this proposal due to the direct loss to ancient woodland through the unacceptable citing of a leisure activity within an irreplaceable habitat.”
A resident of Rocester who does not wish to be named said: “Nearly one hectare of irreplaceable ancient woodland, protected by national policy, would be destroyed under the current golf course layout.
“I do not have a problem with the golf course per se, in fact I think it is positive in many ways, but I find it appalling that a big company can ruin our heritage and landscape in the name of sport when surely with this much land it could be avoided.”
A JCB spokesman said: “We have reduced to a minimum any ancient woodland that has to be disturbed and that disturbance is significantly outweighed by planned new planting of trees.”