The next chapter in the tale of Smithy Wood….

Blog piece written by ‘Sheffield Environmental’ lead campaigner Dave Dickinson.

It was great to see Rotherham Council give planning permission to Applegreen’s Outline Plan for a Service Station at Junction 33 of the M1. Hopefully this will see an end to Extra MSA’s plan for a service station in Smithy Wood. Along with Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust, the Woodland Trust and a host of other conservation organisations we’ve long been campaigning for Smithy Wood Services to be stopped and hopefully this has seen the end of those plans. We’ve talked endlessly about why as an ancient woodland Smithy Wood is so important for people and nature. However the threats to our woodland haven’t gone away and are still very present. Extra have still to drop their application for a service station and St Paul’s Developments who own the land still haven’t done anything about the illegal off-roading activity that takes place there. Broken fences that have never been repaired and obvious tyre tracks act more as an invitation for people to practice their anti social hobby than any kind of deterrent. It appears they are still trying to give the impression of a devalued woodland by allowing for it to become less aesthetically pleasing.

With the increase in protection that is being given to ancient woodland and the passing of permission for Junction 33, it would seem that plans for any kind of development within Smithy Wood has nowhere to go. Leaving its natural adoption of a community woodland as the only way to go, it’s the primary reason for our monthly litter picks around the woodland. In Smithy Wood Action Team we have a group of volunteers who in partnership with an organisation like the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, would love to take over management of the site. We’re there every month doing our bit to make the area look that little bit nicer, all St Paul’s need to do is invite us in. For more details see our Facebook event page

The one threat to the junction 33 plan that could see the junction 35 plan and Smithy Wood Services becoming the more favourable option, is the increasing volumes of traffic around junction 33 and the resulting air pollution that goes with it. Air pollution continues to have a major effect on the people living in the M1 and Sheffield Parkway Corridors, but critics of the junction 33 plan also cite the impact on the success of the advanced manufacturing park. Surely the best solution is to get the planned new station built at the new Waverley development site along the existing railway line and get Tram Train into the Advanced Manufacturing park as proposed in the Sheffield City Region Transport Strategy Consultation which forms part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail plan. The biggest holdup to this however is that Transport for the North, the new-ish agency set up by Government to devolve the management of public transport in the North of England that doesn’t have any meaningful powers. It still relies on the Department of Transport and Ministers in London to make the important decisions that we need making up here in the North of England. We’ve seen time and again projects shelved and cancelled because the Department for Transport have prioritised London’s connections over those in the North, such as Crossrail over the electrification of the Midland Mainline and Tramtrain in Sheffield. The latter was eventually built, but when it happened delays contributed to it running significantly over budget. 

You can read more about the projects Sheffield Environmental carry out here. You may also be interested in reading Joan Miller’s original blog on Smithy Wood here.