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                                         Newsletter - Spring 2020

Spring is the time for leaving the dark days of Winter behind us and the promise of new life ahead. The blockage of the path from Intake Lane into the wood in recent months has caused great inconvenience to the very many people who have used it over many years to enjoy the wood. We have received literally hundreds of messages of support for our campaign to have access into the wood from Intake Lane  re-opened, including from those with young children and elderly parents, and those with mobility problems of their own, for whom other ways into the wood are quite impractical. The blockage has also disrupted the enjoyment and health benefits for regular health walks, and for those leading community groups, such as scouts, guides, beavers, cubs and brownies. Many have written of the physical health benefits of being until recently readily able to access the wood, but also how it has helped in the past to promote their mental and spiritual well-being in being close to nature and the peace and beauty of the wood in an accessible way. Putting all this at risk by the path blockage has been a major source of great community unhappiness, which is quite counter to the spirit in which we worked hard to establish Hagg Wood as a Community Woodland for the positive benefit of its users.  

Fortunately, after more than 22 years delay in processing our original public footpath claims, and the intervention of the Local Government Ombudsman, the City of York Council has now made the positive decision towards fully recognising the claimed paths as public rights of way, through making Definitive Map Modification Orders (DMMOs). If no objections are made during the following six week consultation period, or any such objections are withdrawn, CYC can confirm the DMMOs and the blockages may be removed relatively soon. However, if those opposing a public right of way persist with their objections, the process may take much longer. It then goes to the Secretary of State and the Planning Inspectorate, and a potential subsequent Public Inquiry that may not be held until 2021. During this regrettable delay, there will be plenty of time though to submit further evidence of how important the claimed access to the wood has been to a very large number of local people. 

Blocking access along the claimed paths from Intake Lane has not, however, solved the parking issue at the end of Intake Lane. It has, on the contrary, tended to increase the number of people who feel they need to drive, rather than walk, from elsewhere in Dunnington, in order to reduce their overall walking distance into the wood, when they are forced to use much less convenient access routes. Other solutions to the parking question are therefore needed, which we would be happy to collaborate in, if the DMMOs are confirmed. Once they are, the other main concern of potential objectors, that relating to public liability, is mitigated by the City of York Council becoming responsible for the public footpath. Selling the forestry track from Intake Lane to the entrance to the wood to the Forestry Commission, which we would be happy to help assist in, would further address this concern. It is clearly much better that good solutions are found than major local unhappiness continues.

Despite the significant disruption to our useful conservation work which the path blockage has caused, we have been endeavouring to continue with our own monthly Conservation Working Parties, with the help of the Forestry Commission. These will be held mainly on a Thursday morning in the coming months. Details of these and our other community events can be found here.  Do join us whenever you can. Spring is on its way!


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