Henley/Claydon: Villagers fight to save wood

VILLAGERS are preparing to go into battle with the county council over the future of an ancient wood that has been put up for sale.

Rede Wood, between Henley and Claydon, is part of a larger site including a farm that has been put up for sale by Suffolk County Council.

The 18.7-acre wood is being sold separately from the farm, but villagers are concerned about its long-term future should it fall into private hands.

It is designated as a local nature reserve (LNR) and is home to a variety of species whose numbers are declining seriously including bullfinches, turtle doves and brown hares.

Penny Krotunas, of the Friends of Rede Wood, said it was vital that it remained in public ownership to protect these creatures.

Her organisation had hoped to bid for it – but there is a deadline of Friday, and they fear there might not be time to sew up a deal.

She said: “If Rede Wood is sold privately it would only be the second of around 1,200 LNRs to be sold in the country.

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“This is a unique opportunity to secure the future of Rede Wood for generations to come. Suffolk Wildlife Trust are backing the campaign by Friends of Rede Wood for it to remain in public/trust ownership and not fall into private hands which could make its long-term future insecure.

“The local community feel very strongly that the wood should remain in public/trust ownership and have signed a petition submitted to the council.

“The local primary school have just become a woodland school and plan to use the wood as a woodland classroom.”

Pupils have written to the council to express their concerns and bosses have responded with messages of reassurance.

However, Mrs Krotunas is not convinced and said the friends feared that if it were sold privately, any safeguards imposed as conditions of the sale could be weakened if it were sold on at a later date.

A spokesman for the county council said there would be very strong conditions built into any sale of the wood.

It would have to be retained as ancient woodland and the public and local schools would continue to be given access.

n What are your thoughts on the future of Rede Wood? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@ eveningstar.co.uk