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MP fights timber plantation

The timber plantation will cover 200 acres of grade two arable land in the Cranborne Chase AONB.

Dawn light falls on the wide agricultural valley of the Blackmore Vale under the rolling hills of the Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase in England.

On Friday, 3 November, Dr Andrew Murrison, MP for south-west Wiltshire, visited the proposed site of a 200-acre timber plantation in the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (News, 1 November).

The plantation, planned to cover grade two arable farmland, is currently going ahead having had no environmental impact assessment or any community engagement. This breaks rules set out by the Forestry Commission (FC), the very body that is pushing the project ahead.

Dr Murrison has written on behalf of his constituents to Defra minister Thérèse Coffey and the FC, asking them to pause proceedings until they have conducted the correct impact assessments and followed due process.

In 2020 the FC chair, Sir William Worsley, admitted that the FC had made mistakes sanctioning private landowners to plant forestry at Berriers End in Cumbria. He assured the public that lessons had been learned from those failures in the consultation process.

A spokesperson for the Save Bonham Farmland Action Group said: “The failure of process here has resulted in a plan that is not good for the environment and brings nothing to the local community. We are losing good arable land and a distinctly beautiful, historic landscape.”