Small Woodland Owners' Group

buying sssi wood

Paperwork, grants, legal issues

Postby tracy » Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:00 am

Hi Austino


You have walked right in to one of the major fun parts of owning a woodland! That everyone has a different opinion.... if I was you, I would call NE, or the local FC officer and talk it through with them, get it straight from them - not the policy that you read.


In terms of a work shed and tree house - all woods have restrictions on what can and cannot be built without permission. It might not be any different in a SSSI.


You can have a tool shed/ store for forestry purposes when you can show it is necessary. In other words - you won't be able to build something that contains a bed and a kettle - but if you can show that you need shelter to store tools for forestry purposes then you will be fine. These are the kinds of things you can work through pretty easily once you own the woodland.


If you love it, I would call the NE folk and talk to them and then go for it!


You won't have a problem selling it. I don't think 50 % of people wouldn't touch it - this forum is a very very small selection of our members. Many swog members own SSSI and so far I have not had anyone telling me they wish they hadn't bought one with the designation.


It may have more restrictions and more paperwork - but it just might be worth it if the wood is right for you. I know I am not giving you a straightforward answer - that is just because I don't know! Call NE...I am sure with this careful thinking you will make the right choice


Best wishes

Tracy


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Postby Catweazle » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:56 pm

Exeldama, you say that your father fought beurocrats for 22 years to restore his wood, through hard work and hard earned pennies.


I respect that, but if he had been restoring an SSSI then NE would have pointed him to woodland improvement grants, ringfenced funds for SSSI improvement, helped him with planning and possibly with the labour too. They certainly wouldn't have tied him up in paperwork for 22 years, the longest I have had to wait for a consent to carry out an operation is 2 weeks, and that was because my contact was on holiday.


I'm embarassed by the amount of consents I have for work that I haven't yet had the time to complete, including building the road and planting 1000 fruit trees in a wide ride through the middle.


Natural England don't want to stifle your management, they just want to protect the unique features of the woods and they realise that the best way for that to happen is to encourage owners to manage them, not to lock you out.


Anyone thinking of buying an SSSI can talk to Natural England and ask them what they expect and would like to see happen, that's the best way. You might be surprised how close their ideas are to your own.


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Postby Catweazle » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:59 pm

Austino - I know of an owner who was badly affected by SSSI status. He owns a couple of acres that is home to a rare firefly and was refused permission to turn it into a clay pigeon shoot. Bad for him, good for the fireflies.


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Postby austino » Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:16 am

Hey a clay pigeon shoot in a coulpe of acres, the fireflies got of close. At the risk of being cotroversial, thats why the sssi is needed that sounds like woodland abuse. Hopefully the sssi not only saved the firefly but also the endangered "clay pigeon" !!!


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Postby Exeldama » Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:35 am

My fathers position was with regards to land intially owned by the FC and largely clear felled. It had remaining areas of Ancient woodland and TPOs. There wasnt an SSI. However the general obstruction he recieved as anoutsiderfrom local objections with alittle England` mentality was appaling.


May be it was just bad luck and has been a rarity but it does show what can happen if you dont get the support you need. The upshot of it was that my father ended up going to the high court in order to gain reasonable control over the lands future. He had no assistance over Planning or TPO issues.


Eventually he became aware of corruption over local planning consents (back handers and permissions being given behind closed doors) and chalenged the local burecrats...strangely everything suddenly changed.


22 years, wearing my parents into the ground not to mention the cost...so you will forgive me for having strong views on burecrats.... clearly many are undoubtedly 100% honest and unbiased but some most definitley are not.


I certainly agree there does need to be some constraints to stop people just going bannnanas and chopping everything down/building swimming pools etc but i would still prefer to own a piece of land without anyone having control of its day to day care than me.


Its also interesting to me that as i understand it SSis are rather subjective..who decides what we shall protect givenflavour of the month ` varies. We mustnt forget that what we retain in the UK is pretty much man made to start with and it is perhaps important to accept that our lands are changing as is the fauna and flora. Wether through global warming or introduced species and an intransigent approach to protecting some species at significant cost when they can only be maintained artificially is depending on a persons view erronous.


Playing devils advocate im thinking for example of Hares... (non-native but nowerdays endemic in some areas). These are under threat in some places and projects are as i understand it under way to safeguard the species..do we protect them..WHY..?? How would the enviroment look if they wernt here, what species would benefit...?

i think this is a subject on itself....you can probably tell i have time on my hands today, thinking outloud.


So please dont be put off by my thoughts on SSis everyones experience will be diffrent in regards toburecrats`.... you will take your choice and i hope you have a care free purchase and ownership.


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Postby Martin » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:09 pm

Hello Austino

Guess i am also a said part owner of a SSSI woodland at Combwell in Kent and thought i would share a bit of my experience with you.


The woods here as with all SSSI's are protected for a particular reason usually a rare plant or insect and that normally relates to a particular environment that encourages whatever is protected to thrive. In the case of Combwell it is for Atlantic Bryophytes that grow in the gill streams and are deemed to be very rare within the northern hemisphere. That kind of gives the place a global importance. Plenty of advice and funding is available from Natural England and others to help protect these environments for you.


To me the constraints of managing an SSSI aren’t a problem as management tends to take the form of what is needed by the wood, i.e. if it needs coppicing coppice it, if it needs thinning thin it or even leave it be if that is what is called for.


It has never occurred to me that using the woodland for quiet enjoyment, building fires, camping out in the woods, log shelters is any problem. I regularly camp out throughout the year and know one of my nearest neighbours brings their 2 dogs down on a regular basis. Others use their woods for wildlife conservation, education and for investment. There are restrictions on what you can do, but to be honest it sounds like you already know and understand that.


If you are interested there is a survival skills event on this Saturday for many of the owners at Combwell, it is being run by an owner who runs these on a commercial basis. You would be more than welcome to come along and meet up with us all, it would give you a much better understanding of owning a SSSI woodland than reading any forum will do. :-))


You can get my contact details from Tracy.


Regards

Martin..


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Postby austino » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:36 pm

Thanks Martin for that positive response. Am at the moment struggling with a fluey thing but if I can will come along. You are now the second owner at Coombewell I've spoken to and both of you have been equally friendly and helpful.I sense quite a community spirit within the woodland owners and that gives an additional pleasant dimension. Thanks again and look forward to meeting you.

My thanks goes to everyone who has posted replies regardless of viewpoint. Perhaps where I have not been entirely honest is the fact that I wanted to beleive the sssi matter was not a problem as I particularly liked the wood in question albeit having to sell a few limbs to afford it ! Thanks again Tony


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Postby tracy » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:57 pm

Hi Austino


I have emailed you the information should you feel like going!

Tracy


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Postby austino » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:58 pm

Thanks so much. I went along and really enjoyed it and such a great bunch of people! Thanks again


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Postby tracy » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:09 pm

Yeah! Great, so pleased. Looking forward to hearing all the things you folks learned.


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