New £40m motorway service station on the M1 in South Yorkshire?

Plans have been unveiled for a new £40 M  service station on the M1 in South Yorkshire.

A 20-acre (eight hectare) site at junction 35 near Chapeltown, which is largely woodland, has been chosen.

A number of groups have spoken out against this proposal as the area chosen is ancient woodland - comments include:

  • Ancient woods are a precious resource, in fact they are our richest land-based habitat. They are rare and complex, having developed diverse ecological communities of plants and animals over many centuries. Put simply they are irreplaceable.
  • Just 2% of the UK landmass is now covered with ancient woodland. Reducing it and fragmenting it further will not help.
  • Rare and vulnerable species exist in ancient woodland, it is in fact home to 256 species of conservation concern.
  • The Sheffield local plan says that “development will not be permitted that would directly or indirectly damage existing mature or ancient woodland, veteran trees or ancient or species-rich hedgerows.”
  • There are alternative sites in the area, including local brownfield sites owned by the developers, which would not result in the loss of ancient woodland.

Comments regarding the development can be made online to the developers.

The Woodland Trust have an online petition which urges the developers to build elsewhere, on a site that would not destroy ancient woodland.

Ancient woodland is defined as land that has been continually wooded since at least 1600AD. From 1600AD, planting of woodland became more common, so woodland that pre-dates this is more likely to have grown up naturally. Some ancient woods may even link back to the original wildwood that covered the UK around 10,000 years ago, after the last Ice Age.


Dave Pickersgill's picture

according to the BBC, plans for this Service Station have been submitted - - Extra MSA Group has submitted a planning application to Sheffield City Council for a 27-acre site (11-hectare) at Junction 35 of the M1.

Technotronic's picture

This news item is ripe for a follow-up. Will you be updating it with any news of developments?

With regard to the above statement "Ancient woodland is defined as land that has been continually wooded since at least 1600AD."

This is true for England, but not other parts of the UK. Scotland and Wales have a different, later, threshold dates. The threshold date reflects the earliest date at which maps are available for a *large* part of the particular country.

Technotronic's picture


The following information was posted at:

Anna Pethen

Today at 08:07.(Shared from Ian Cracknell's post in STAG)

Dear all - SMITHY WOOD URGENTLY NEEDS YOUR HELP! Smithy Wood is a designated ancient woodland and Local Wildlife Site within Green Belt in Sheffield - now at risk from a planning application for a motorway service station, hotel, food court and car park. There is now a FINAL opportunity to submit objections to the proposals by FRIDAY 13 NOVEMBER. There are strong grounds to oppose it - but it's going to need as many objections as possible to stand a chance. If you want to help save these woods, it's vital that you submit an objection ASAP - and it's equally important that you only object on planning grounds and refrain from emotional arguments.

Sheffield Wildlife Trust have put together an excellent page of information - - that lists all the reasons you should object in detail, so it won't take much time to use the information to make an objection in your own words.

Go to the Council’s planning portal here:

You will need to register to make an objection, or log in if you are already registered.

Type or paste the application reference 14/01079/OUT where it says “Enter a keyword, reference number, postcode or single line of an address”

In your own words, briefly explain why you object to the planning application. Then cut and paste one or more of the points from below in ‘Reasons to Object’ e.g. Green Belt, Ecological Network, Ancient Woodland to back up your arguments.

It is critical that you make your objection based on planning grounds for it to be considered. Click “Submit”.

If you’d like email updates on the planning process, make sure you tick the box.

Share this page with concerned friends and relatives and ask them to lodge their objections too.

Raise the issue with your local Councillor. Use the information here to inform them about the different aspect of the issue and ask them their view. This is especially important if they sit on Sheffield City Council's Planning Committee as they will make the decision to refuse or approve the application. Click here to find out if your councillor sits on the planning committee.

There will be a peaceful protest outside Sheffield Town Hall before the start of the Planning Committee meeting Tuesday 19 January. Email for further details.

Technotronic's picture


The deadline for submitting objections has been extended to 23rd November, 2015.

If you e-mail your objection/s to , you must quote "application reference 14/01079/OUT" and include your full postal address.

Technotronic's picture


On 17th November, 2015 (this Tuesday), at the Amey Roadshow in Heeley, Darren Butt (Operations Director for Amey: “principally responsible for trees…”) announced that 1,000 MORE HIGHWAY TREES HAVE BEEN FELLED IN THE PAST FOUR MONTHS, since the inaugural meeting of Cllr Fox’s Highway Tree Advisory Forum (23rd July, 2015). Mr Butt is aware that many of the 36,000 highway trees classed as “mature or over-mature (75%) are likely to be causing “pavement ridging” or disturbing kerb alignment. He said this is unacceptable but that his arboricultural team had worked with Graeme Symonds’s (Amey’s Core Investment Project Director) highway construction team to develop a range of alternative highway engineering specifications for footway and kerb construction, which the Council have not mentioned or made available to the public.

Six months since Save Our Roadside Trees (SORT) highlighted Amey’s plans to fell thousands of healthy, safe highway trees on the basis that they damage pavements and kerbs, Cllr Leigh Bramall’s (Deputy Leader of the Council: Lab) words from the meeting of full council, on 1st July, 2015, remain a cause for deep concern:


His words echoed those reported in the December 2012 issue of ‘Transportation Professional’ (a Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation publication), when Steve Robinson (SCC Head of Highway Maintenance) was interviewed. The publication stated that:

“OVER THE FIRST FIVE YEARS of the 25 year Streets Ahead deal…” AMEY will be: “REPLACING HALF OF THE CITY’S 36,000 HIGHWAY TREES”.

This continues until 2018!

The above letter was sent to The Star on 18th November, 2015. I received a copy later the same day. I genuinely cannot understand what The Star has against sharing this information with a wider readership. Perhaps it is just a case that they failed to send a reporter to the roadshow?

It is worth mentioning that the second meeting of Cllr Fox's "bi-monthly" Highway Tree Advisory Forum, which took place on 2nd September, 2015, was supposed to be an opportunity for the public to be informed about the range of alternative highway engineering specifications that Streets Ahead consider (the "Streets Ahead engineering options", as they call them) to enable the safe, long-term retention of each highway tree prior to taking the decision to fell, as they claim "felling is a last resort". For Mr Butt (Amey's Operations Director)to now claim that the "engineering options" presented on 2nd September (by Steve Robinson: The disgraced SCC Head of Highway Maintenance)are NOT the options considered and used by Streets Ahead is truly shocking!

For the record, it looks as though the third meeting of Cllr Fox's "bi-monthly" Highway Tree Advisory Forum, which was due to take place this month (November), has been cancelled as, since 19th November, 2015, at least, Cllr Fox (Labour Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, and self-appointed organiser and Chair of the Highway Tree Advisory Forum) is "on annual leave until Tuesday 31st Nov".

Technotronic's picture

18,000 TREES FACE THE AXE (50% Of highway trees)!

The 2006/07 highway tree survey (commissioned and paid for by the Council) said 75% of trees are mature (including over mature), according to officials (Streets Ahead; SCC: website & David Caulfield; Amey: Jeremy Willis; also, Cllr Terry Fox: 74%; Cllr Leigh Bramall: 70%). That is 27,000 trees. Many of these will have been subsequently classed as damaging or discriminatory (campaigners haven’t asked how many actually are) by Amey, when they commissioned their own highway tree survey in 2012, as they are associated with pavement ridging and the dislodgement of kerb stones. Furthermore, 10,000 trees require treatments (removal of epicormic shoots, crown reduction, deadwooding, etc) and most of those, if not all, will be mature trees. TO DATE, >3,500 TREES HAVE BEEN FELLED (1,000 SINCE 23rd JULY, 2015). The contract allows 18,000 to be felled. Transportation Professional said this figure applied to the core investment period – the first 5yrs of the Amey PFI contract! So, based on what we know, we can expect 14,500 more trees to be felled before 2018. Beyond that, we just don’t know. However, it is reasonable to assume that Amey will concentrate on phasing out the remainder of 27,000 trees: at least 9,000 mature trees, as Streets Ahead believe these trees are near the end of their life, on the basis that they are mature and require "treatment" of one kind or another.

Cllr Fox stated, at the meeting of full Council, in the Town Hall, on 1st July 2015:

“We had an independent survey done in 2006-2007 which helps us inform our priorities for the formation of the contract…”

“The survey noted that 74% of our mature tree stock with very few young trees has given this combination the RATE OF DECLINE EVIDENCE BY THE NUMBER OF TREES NEEDING TREATMENT.”

Just to remind you, STEVE ROBINSON (SCC Head of Highway Maintenance) COMMENTED, at the inaugural meeting of the Highway Trees Advisory Forum, on 23rd July, 2015:

“We had a survey carried out by an independent firm in 2006/2007 that identified that there was 10,000 trees - that’s out of a highway tree stock of 36,000 - that required some type of intervention, and they recommended that there was a process of SUSTAINABLE replacement. So, in light of that, the Council, as part of its application to Government for the Streets Ahead project, received funding to manage the city’s highway tree stock. It also seeks to repair the city’s infrastructure… So, we believe that the Streets Ahead project offers a unique opportunity to MANAGE, MAINTAIN AND REPLACE trees, and to offer a generational shift to leave a lasting legacy. …So, our underinvestment and underfunding left us with A NUMBER OF DEAD, DYING AND DANGEROUS TREES. Some of you would be surprised that there were 1,200 TREES THAT WERE WITHIN THAT CATEGORY. SO, AMEY IDENTIFIED THOSE TREES AND ADDRESSED THOSE FIRST.”

“Our next priority is to improve the condition of our roads and pavements. So, in other words, deal with the DAMAGING trees – those trees that are damaging kerbs, pavements and drains. And then, because the Council is actually improving its footpaths, we are obliged to consider equality. So, we’re now looking to deal with DISCRIMINATORY trees…”

Technotronic's picture



"In recent weeks, Cllrs N.BOND; A.MURPHY; G.SMITH, and MP L.HAIGH, (ALL LABOUR), have been distributing letters and leaflets, trying to reassure citizens that the loss of up to 18,000 mature highway trees (50% of the total highway tree population, according to Cllr BRAMALL: Deputy Leader of the Council), over a 5yr period, to 2018 (according to the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation, following an interview in 2012 with STEVE ROBINSON: SCC Head of Highway Maintainance), is nothing in the grand scheme of things, as the Council estimate that Sheffield has 2m trees, stating that thousands are planted in woodlands. Together with the policy of planting one tree for each tree felled, DAVID CAULFIELD (SCC Director of Development Services) the Council, and Amey – the PFI contractor for the £2.2bn Streets Ahead (SA) project - believe this constitutes a “sustainable programme of replacement”, as:

'An independent tree survey carried out in 2006/7 indicated that approximately 75% of Sheffield’s highway tree stock was reaching the end of its natural life… and that if a programme of sustainable replacement did not commence, then a catastrophic decline in tree numbers would occur.'
(Streets Ahead, 2015).

JEREMY WILLIS (Amey’s Operations Manager: self-styled “arboricultural specialist”) stated (SA Ref: 101002267244):

'In 2006/7 we commissioned an independent survey which found that over 75% of our street trees were mature or over mature and if we did not embark on a project where we intervened and replaced such trees we would be left with a situation where a large proportion of our street trees would be lost.'

These comments indicate that, over the course of the 25yr PFI, 27,000 mature highway trees face the axe. Many are likely to be associated with “pavement ridging” or disruption of kerb alignment, and therefore classified, by Amey, as “DISCRIMINATORY” or “DAMAGING”. By current SA criteria, such trees are a priority for felling before 2018.

Mr ROBINSON stated, at the inaugural meeting of the Highway Trees Advisory Forum, on 23rd July, 2015:

'So, just to give you a summary of where we are today, there’s been 2,563 highway trees removed because they met one of the 6Ds...'

'Our next priority is to… deal with the DAMAGING trees – those trees that are damaging kerbs, pavements and drains. …So, we’re now looking to deal with DISCRIMINATORY trees…'

The UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) defines sustainable management. Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG) have e-mailed Mr WILLIS, stating:

'We believe it would be prudent for Streets Ahead to remember that the urban forest – the city-wide tree population - is defined by its canopy cover, and that a responsible, sustainable approach to management requires, at least, the maintenance of this cover in each land-use category, including highways, and the range, magnitude and value of benefits (ecosystem services) that it affords to the environment (neighbourhoods) and inhabitants (communities). See The UKFS & TT2.'

Or, as SORT have stated in an e-mail to Mr CAULFIELD:

'The current five-year city-wide felling programme will drastically reduce canopy cover along highways. This will have a significant negative impact on the provision and maintenance of benefits afforded by highway trees, as the range, magnitude and value of benefits is TOTALLY dependent on the shape size and distribution of canopy cover at street, neighbourhood and city-wide levels.'"

The above letter landed in my inbox this week. It was sent to THE STAR newspaper on Monday 30th November, 2015. For some reason, THE STAR has refused to publish the letter. A shame, really, as the detail is spot on, and the points that campaigners have made are valid.

Technotronic's picture


To discover more about the case for the retention of Sheffield's mature trees, please see the SORT letter dated 29th January 2016 that was e-mailed to Cllr Fox (CABINET MEMBER FOR ENVIRONMENT & TRANSPORT) on 29th January 2016, by Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG), acting on behalf of SORT.

You can access it at the following links:

The letter also formed part of the Nether Edge petition hand-out that was DISTRIBUTED TO EVERY COUNCILLOR by SCC’s John Turner (Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources) - on 1st February, 2016, at 3:17pm - to encourage informed “debate” at the meeting of full Council, on 3rd February, 2016, about tree population management. In reality, there was no debate. As usual, just a series of speeches and the usual political point scoring.

As you may have heard, the High Court have since issued an injunction to halt the felling of street trees throughout the city:

"The Defendant (i.e. SCC) and the Interested Party (i.e. Amey) shall not, whether by themselves, their servants, agents or otherwise, fell any street tree in the City of Sheffield under the Sheffield Streets Ahead Project unless an appropriately qualified independent arboricultural expert has produced a written report stating that the tree presents an immediate danger to the public and must be felled."

Both the Council & Amey claim to comply with best practice and good practice, respectively. All campaigners want is for it to be applied, supervised, audited and enforced, with evidence of such steps having been taken.

Since there doesn’t appear to be any opposition to the relevance of and necessity to apply good practice, I think campaigners need to be getting forceful in insisting that it be applied, supervised, audited and enforced. If it had been, most of the trees currently scheduled for felling would be safely retained, instead. They say there are no other reasonably practicable “solutions”, but alternative highway engineering specifications for footway, kerb & drain construction have not been commissioned or draughted for consideration, and balanced risk assessments (including valuation, cost:benefit analyses and adequate hazard assessment) are not done. Instead, they have sought and relied upon the OPINION of citizens. That does not constitute a responsible approach to asset management, nor does it comply with current arboricultural and urban forestry good practice guidance and recommendations, including UKRLG guidance. Campaigners need to really pick up on this & run with it. Remember, Streets Ahead claim compliance with UKRLG guidance; BS 5837; BS 3998; NJUG guidance and TDAG recommendations. So, HOLD THEM TO ACCOUNT FOR THEIR ACTS AND OMISSIONS!

Please note that although felling has been halted, pruning (crown “removal”) has not and nor has resurfacing. It is likely that Streets Ahead (Amey) will push on with resurfacing using current methods (use of a planing machine within NJUG protection zone: a radius from the tree trunk equal to 4x stem circumference - measured at 1.5m above ground), contrary to NJUG guidance & BS5837 recommendations. HAVE YOUR CAMERA READY!

Once roots of mature highway trees are severely damaged by such machinery (& trenching machinery - diggers), the predicted “CATASTROPHIC DECLINE” in the number of highway trees* is reasonably foreseeable and there is likely to be reasonably strong justification for felling. The prediction of catastrophic decline in tree numbers

*Predicted by the Deputy Leader of the Council (Cllr Leigh Bramall), David Caulfield (SCC Director of Development Services with responsibility for all aspects of highway tree management and practice) and the Streets Ahead team (Amey): SEE APPENDIX 9 of the letter (page 201).

75% of Sheffield's street trees (27,000 trees) are mature. Mature trees are particularly vulnerable following damage (like elderly people). Mature trees are the ones associated with kerb and footway DAMAGE, which is why most are being felled. However, many are scheduled for felling because Amey predict their roots will be severely damaged during resurfacing works. If they complied with good practice, in most instances (possibly all) that would not be the case.

Alternative highway engineering specifications for footway (pavement) kerb and drain construction would enable safe long-term retention of mature trees - a valuable community asset and key component of green infrastructure. A mature lime tree like those on Rustlings Rd, with at least 40yrs of remaining estimated safe useful life expectancy is likely to have a value of @65,000, once structural value and a range of ecosystem service benefits afforded to the environment and communities have been accounted for. See pages 118-120 & the references on pages 125-139 in the aforementioned SORT letter. There is a SORT of Index section at the end of the document. ;)


Here are some links: