Threat to woodland project: How you can help

Doug King-Smith of the Hillyfield Project

Doug King-Smith of the Hillyfield Project - Credit: Archant

The organiser of an award-winning woodland community project on Dartmoor says it is being threatened by national park planners in a case that could decide the future of similar projects across the country

The organiser of an award-winning woodland community project on Dartmoor says it is being threatened by national park planners in a case that could decide the future of similar projects across the country.

The Hillyfield is a 45-acre wood that was rescued from terminal decline and disease and is now a thriving working woodland, supporting a small timber business and a volunteer scheme to teach woodland skills.

But planners at Dartmoor National Park Authority have served the project with enforcement notices to remove the essential structures such as a tented workshop, field kitchen and compost toilet and are preparing to launch a legal battle to shut down the project, in what is being seen as a test case for similar projects.

Doug King-Smith, the driving force behind The Hillyfield said: “The planning officials on Dartmoor cannot see the wood for the trees. Most Dartmoor woodlands are suffering neglect and disease, if not already in decay, but our project has transformed the Hillyfield into a viable working wood with a thriving volunteer base. Instead of trying to shut us down, they should be holding us up as an example of how to manage our woodlands.”

The Hillyfield has been working to a plan developed with the Forestry Commission, and is supported by many top forestry experts, including BBC broadcaster and woodland writer Rob Penn. But when the project applied for planning permission for a wood drying barn and machinery store, the proposal was rejected and, when this decision was appealed, an enforcement notice served on the temporary structures in the woods that make the project possible.

King-Smith is well supported by the local community and is now crowd-funding to pay for legal representation through the appeals process.

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For more information please call Doug King-Smith on 07976589927 or email dougkingsmith@yahoo.co.uk

www.thehillyfield.co.uk

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