ANCIENT woodlands could be protected from all development proposals under new planning framework being considered by the Scottish Government. 

A draft of the fourth version of the National Planning Framework, which has been hailed as a "turning point for Scotland", was published yesterday and sets out the need for any new planning applications to consider the climate emergency. 

Within the document, it is outlined that proposals will not be supported that "have an adverse impact on native woodlands", or result in the loss of ancient and veteran trees. 

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The framework will be scrutinised by the parliament over the next three months and consultation with the public will also take place. Following its release, Woodland Trust Scotland chiefs have hailed the document as "positive". 

Suzie Saunders, the charity's public affairs officer, said: "We are extremely pleased to see the draft state that developments which result in any loss of ancient woodland should be blocked. Only one or two per cent of our land area is ancient woodland so it should be possible to avoid it. Yet in recent years we have seen it chipped away here and there for golf courses, road building, commercial and housing developments. 

"Ancient Woodland is a key carbon store, storing on average 31 per cent more carbon per hectare than any other woodland type, and one of the most biodiverse habitats in Scotland. As such it contributes to Scotland tackling the climate and nature crises and reaching out net-zero targets.

Forestry Journal: Tom Arthur set out the framework yesterday Tom Arthur set out the framework yesterday

"The draft also protects ancient and veteran individual trees from adverse impacts on their ecological condition and proposes blocking developments which would adversely impact on other native woods, hedgerows or individual trees identified for their high biodiversity value. 

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"Woodland Trust Scotland broadly welcomes what is contained in the Trees, Woodland and Forestry section of the draft plan and we will be campaigning to make sure these positive measures remain after consultation."

Addressing MSPs at Holyrood yesterday, planning minister Tom Arthur said: “Our proposals will help us achieve our just transition to net zero emissions by helping to deliver more renewable energy, protecting our natural environment and creating better, healthier places to live.”