Campaign group to hand over petition to save woodland

Members of the Friends of Speckled Wood
Members of the Friends of Speckled Wood

CAMPAIGNERS calling for the protection of an area of woodland in Ore have collected more than 1,200 signatures on their petition.

The Friends of Speckled Wood want the whole of the wood protected from any development. They will be handing over the petition to the council at the Town Hall today (Friday), after amassing 1,231 signatures of support for their cause.

The future of Speckled Wood has come up in the Borough Plan, a document which outlines possible development in the town over the next 20 years. Each one of the planning options in the plan for Speckled Wood contain sites that could be given up for proposed housing development. So seeing that the wood was under threat, residents got together to launch their campaign.

Martin Newbold, chairman of the Friends of Speckled Wood, said: “We believe that the local residents want the whole of the wood protected. The recent Hastings Borough Council consultation did not have this option. We began our campaign to represent the views of the public and created an alternative consultation document to demonstrate the strength of public opinion on this matter. It is vitally important that the council takes these views into consideration.

“The response from the public has been overwhelming and we have received 1,231 votes to say that they wish the whole of the wood to be preserved. Speckled Wood is a habitat to a wealth of mammals, birds flora, invertebrates and of course, trees. There is a meandering stream that runs right through the wood. The name Speckled Wood is believed to have originated from the butterflies of the same name that thrive there, but it is also known as the Hollow or ‘Olla’. It is possibly the last undeveloped wooded ghyll in Hastings.”
Cllr Peter Chowney, local ward councillor and deputy leader, said he was in full support of the Friends’ campaign.He said: “The Borough Plan is an opportunity to protect Speckled Wood. It’s too steep and has no access for development. We really do need the open space preserved. Speckled Wood is well used and a much loved local space. As the ward councillor I’m absolutely determined to keep as much of Speckled wood as possible, preferably all of it.” The ultimate future of Speckled Wood will be decided by HM Planning Inspectorate. A decision is expected in 2014.