Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Bid to save Smithy Wood from Chapeltown services plan

Site of the proposed service station
Image caption The site, to the south-west of junction 35 of the M1, is predominantly woodland

Campaigners fighting plans to build a £40m service station on woodland by the M1 have appealed for evidence of the site's use by residents.

Cowley Residents Action Group (CRAG) and The Woodland Trust are opposing plans for the development of Smithy Wood near junction 35, at Chapeltown.

They want the wood to be given village green status to prevent building work.

Extra Motorway Service Area Group says there is "a clear need" for the station to fill a gap in service provision.

The Commons Act 2006 allows applications for an area to be given village green status if local residents have "indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years".

'Pool of evidence'

Oliver Newham, a senior Woodland Trust campaigner, said: "We are delighted that the community understands how devastating the loss of this ancient woodland could be for both the residents and the many species of wildlife that call it home.

"We'd like anyone who has previously or does still love using Smithy Wood to get in touch and share their memories."

He said the trust wanted to help build "a vital pool of evidence" in the form of "a memory, story or photograph" to help bolster CRAG's application.

According to the consultation website the services would include a food court building, a hotel and a petrol station.

It adds that current guidance indicates that for safety, drivers should have the opportunity to stop on a motorway journey every 30 minutes or 12-28 miles (19-45km), depending on traffic conditions.

But drivers coming to the M1 in South Yorkshire from the M18 are having to go 42 miles (67km).

In August, Andrew Long, chief executive of Extra MSA, said it was hoped construction work would start next summer, with completion in the summer of 2015, if planning permission was granted early next year.

It is expected a decision will be made on the village green status application in around six weeks, the Woodland Trust said.

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