Environmental activists have said plans for a new Center Parcs in Sussex would “tear down the heart” of the irreplaceable ancient woodland.
The £350m holiday village near Crowley will include accommodation, restaurants and a swimming complex.
But conservation and wildlife charities, including the RSPB and the Woodland Trust, have spoken out against the proposal.
The development “will tear the heart out of Oldhouse Warren’s irreplaceable pristine woodland” resulting in “irreversible loss of habitat for wildlife”, the group, which also includes the Sussex Wildlife Trust, CPRE Sussex and the Sussex Ornithological Society, said in a joint letter. .
Dan Osborne, President of CPRE Sussex, said: “While cutting down ancient woodland and displacing some of our rarest birds would be bad enough anywhere, it’s even worse at the heart of the High Weld national landscape.
“The proposals fly in the face of everything we say about the need to reduce our carbon emissions, and run counter to government objectives to restore and expand our natural habitats and biodiversity, and their long-term health and well-being. “
Jenny Scholfield, the Woodland Trust’s Southeast Regional Director, warned that the development “could open flood gates for damage to ancient woodlands elsewhere”.
Defending the plans, a Center Parks spokesperson said “detailed ecological surveys” are underway and that it takes its responsibility to the environment and forests “extremely seriously”.
He added: “We have over 30 years of experience in the sensitive management of the woodlands in which our villages are located, carefully nurturing and maintaining forests to protect and enhance biodiversity.
“Our approach to this development will be a collaborative one, working with the local authority, the local community and all groups with a specific interest in the site.”
PA. Additional reporting by
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