Thank you for contacting me about ancient woodland.
Ancient woodland is a precious habitat and the National Planning Policy Framework already contains protections for it. It states that planning permission should be refused for development that would result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees elsewhere. This can only be overridden if the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.
The recent Housing White Paper went further, announcing a proposal to clarify planning policy on ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees, upgrading their protection to the same level as the green belt. I have been assured that Ministers will consider everyone's views and develop this further.
As the Environment Minister, I am pleased that we are protecting and enhancing our woodland habitats. We continue to plant millions of trees such that England's woodland cover is at its greatest since the fourteenth century.