Save Smithy Wood
With campaign colleagues Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and others, we were delighted that Extra MSA dropped its plans for a service station at Junction 35 of the M1, which would have destroyed the integrity of the ancient Smithy Wood.
Once Rotherham Council gave outline planning permission last year to Applegreen for a motorway service station at Junction 33 of the M1 the need for another service station a few miles further north melted away. How many more opportunities for an over-priced coffee, massage chair or quick go on the slot machines do drivers need?
However, although the threat of development has been lifted the future of the ancient woodland is by no means certain. Events show that history repeats itself. In 2001, Rotherham Council rejected an application to build a motorway service area on the eastern side of the M1 at Junction 35, because there were no exceptional circumstances to justify building in the Green Belt and destroying precious ancient woodland at Smithy Wood.
As the last vestige of unique 12th century woodland already carved up by the M1 motorway, Smithy Wood has strong protection – but now it should be protected for certain.
Its importance to the local community is shown by the strength of support for the 7-year long campaign and the number of volunteers who regularly turn out to litter pick the site. St Paul’s Developments, who own the land, should do the decent thing and hand over the site to the community who will clearly give the wood the care it so urgently needs.