I understand and share your concerns regarding protection for our ancient woodlands and our aged and veteran trees, which are an irreplaceable aspect of our natural environment.
It is absolutely right that the National Planning Policy Framework sets out that “development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees) should be refused unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation strategy exists”. This will ensure that these irreplaceable areas are not lost for future generations.
Local planning authorities determine planning applications that concern ancient woodland and veteran trees. In this process, Natural England are statutory consultees where an application may affect ancient woodland designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, which accounts for 23 per cent of ancient woodlands, or where development requires an Environmental Impact Assessment.