MOD held to account for SSSI law breaches

On the 18th September I posted a video on the “Save Ash Ranges” facebook group showing how the MOD and their contractor had been dumping a large amount of rubbish in the woods within the Ash Range Complex. The area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and thus there are laws in place to protect the site, dumping of any kind is a criminal offence. Yet the MOD had deemed it suitable to dump a large number of rotting, tarred railway sleepers along with various other wood and metal items.

Along with my FB video I took a number of pictures which I then passed on to the relevant government authority, Natural England. I received a response a few weeks ago thanking me for the report and that they would be working with the landowner to rectify the situation.

Today I received an email from Natural England as follow:

Dear James,

I am emailing in response to your request for an update regarding sleepers being left at Ash Ranges, part of Ash to Brookwood Heaths SSSI.

Natural England have been in discussion with the landowners and agreed that no further such deposits will occur within the SSSI boundary, or in this location unless agreed by the usual SSSI consenting processes. Smaller materials that are considered to be dangerous will be removed without disturbing the spoil site. An appropriate assessment will be undertaken to ascertain the full potential that the sleeper pile, with vegetation offers wildlife. It has the characteristics of a large hibernaculum, and is potentially a good habitat to support reptiles and invertebrates. By removing the whole pile this could destroy this now valuable wildlife resource.

Thank you again for making us aware of these actions.

Kind regards,

Conservation Delivery Team

Although it was clear from the pictures Natural England have confirmed that this dumping has taken place over a long period of time. They have also confirmed that the MOD will not dump anything further.

This is a great win for the campaign with the MOD being held to account for the Enviro Vandalism and their abuse of important lands under their control that the should and must protect.

Perhaps this dumping had a part in their decision to single out the Ash Range Complex for unlawful closure to the public and to quote Michael Gove MP “Draconian measures”.

I will continue to monitor the situation.