Hundreds set for walk to protest woodland sale

Park Wood, Hellingly
Park Wood, Hellingly

More than 100 people are set to walk through Park Wood in Hellingly tomorrow (Saturday) to protest against the potential sale of the site by the Environment Agency.

An application has been made to have the land declared as an Asset of Community Value, which would delay the sale of the land, giving the community time to raise money to buy it.

Walkers hope the event, which will start from 1.30pm in Grove Hill car park, will highlight how important the wood is to the community.

“If people are concerned about the wood they need to come along and show their solidarity,” said Paul Rees who is organising the mass-walk. He urged people to come along to the car park and support the cause, even if they didn’t have the time to do the walk itself.

Jenny Seale, the community correspondent for Hailsham and the surrounding area, said, “I think people would be sad to lose Park Wood which is held in great affection.”

Campaigners say the Environment Agency has been told to liquidate its assets, which has led to the wood being put up for sale at full market price.

Friend of Park Wood Jo Irvine said, “In past cases landowners have made changes with the intention of making walking harder or more unpleasant.

“Footpaths can become overgrown or blocked, tall fences built, protected trees ‘accidentally’ cut down.

“This is a beautiful area of Ancient Woodland with many indigenous, broadleaf trees.

“So many other woods are sterile areas of endless pine trees, whilst this is a wonderful mix of trees, dappled sunshine and streams.

“I loved taking my children there when they were little, and want to be sure that my new-born grandson will have the same opportunity to play and walk there.”

Another friend of the wood, Gill Staplehurst, said, “This woodland is home to owls, woodpeckers, badgers and deer. The bluebells take your breath away.”

Campaigner Mary Laxton said: “This Ancient Woodland should be preserved as a community facility so current residents and future generations can enjoy a piece of tranquillity of this beautiful woodland in an area surrounded by current and future housing development.”

While Hayley Clark added: “I have been walking my dogs in these glorious woods for 30 years and also on occasion ridden through.

“It is one of those rare natural and beautiful places where families, dog walkers, horse riders (in parts) and also wheel chair users (in parts) can all enjoy all year without being on top of each other.

“We used to bring my husband’s grandmother here in her wheelchair at bluebell time which was fabulous she was still able to access them. It is a place that is quietly valued by so many.”

The result of the application to name the wood as an Asset of Community Value is on Wednesday, August 15, and Friends of Park Wood are hoping a high turnout at the walk will help the case.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/groups/731235203745628.