From Major Jim Salisbury:
WHITTINGTON RANGES AND HOPWAS WOOD UPDATE
The area of the ranges has had to be closed off again due to continuing works to ensure the ranges and woods are safe for all to use.
Matters have taken some time due to some unforeseen issues which are being resolved and once complete will enable us to fully open the ranges for Military use.
As and when we know of the dates for shooting to be carried out we will keep you informed via these firing notices and local media.
The small 25mtr no danger area ranges will continue to be in use.
The area of Hopwas Wood will also be used for Military training so please pay heed to any signage giving warnings or advice from Military personnel.
The bridleway from the White House is open for Public Access.
The next Newsletter is due to be sent out in October. As in the past there is the request for the payment of subscriptions and it is important to note that if the subscriptions are not paid by 31 December membership is cancelled in accordance with our Constitution. If any member does not receive a Newsletter by the end of October please contact Ray Vanstone by e-mail.
The following notification has been received from Major Salisbury at the MoD:
“The works that were planned to be undertaken within Hopwas wood have in the main been completed.
Some minor works are still in progress but these will be able to be completed without any impact upon Public access.
This is good news as it means I am able now to open the area of Hopwas Wood to full Public access. Any future closure will be when the ranges will be in use and will be notified by firing times and local media outlets.
That was the good news, unfortunately our review of the main ranges has shown we still have some corrective works to complete. This will ensure we are able to carry out Military firing safely with no risk to the Public or ourselves.
The area of the main ranges will continue to remain closed until we are able to complete the corrective works and has been closed via the County Council until the 1st October 2016. This will include the Bridleway that crosses the ranges meaning there will be no access what so ever via the ranges to where the bridleway enters Hopwas Hay Lane track into the Hopwas Woods area.
Areas within the range complex continue to be worked upon and are marked out of bounds as we continue to carry out the necessary works. Be aware please of the notices in place and adhere to the information given to ensure we keep everybody safe.
The bridleway from the White house will remain open for Public access at all times.
I will continue to keep you fully up to speed on any developments as they arise. “
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation have informed us that the Woods are now open to the public. Any future closure will be when the ranges will be in use and will be notified by firing times and local media outlets.
The Annual General Meeting was held on Wednesday 20th. April. Thank you to those members who sent in their apologies. There was a disappointing attendance particularly as the speakers were from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). That said the presentation was both interesting and informative. The MoD have been installing signage and flags in the Wood to warn the public that firing may be in progress on the ranges and access to the Wood will be prohibited. The work should have been completed by the end of April but due to weather and other operating issues the work will not now be completed until the end of the May. Because of limited training facilities access to the MoD part of the Wood will be closed at least two weekends a month and is likely to be used two or three times each week. Every effort is being made to make sure that the public are aware of when the closures will take place through public notices, the Village Voice and notification to individuals via email. If you wish to be notified send your email address to DIOSDTrg-WWSwynnertonTSO@mod.uk.
The Wigginton and Hopwas Parish Council have produced the Wigginton, Hopwas and Comberford Neighbourhood Area which has now been examined and found to be sound and will shortly be subject of a referendum to accept the Plan and if more than 50% vote `Yes` the Plan will be adopted. Importantly for the Friends there is a policy to protect the Wood in perpetuity as ancient woodland which will be a key policy consideration should any development proposals be submitted to the Planning Authority.
As reported in the recent newsletter, Tarmac has been acquired by an Irish building company CRH plc. Having enquired of Tarmac as to what CRHs position is on the Wood they have stated that nothing specific has been considered to date and that this is unlikely to change in the near future. This will be closely monitored. The current state of Tarmacs landholding at Hopwas remains unchanged.
The current Committee was elected for another year and the subscriptions remain the same i.e. £5, which will be collected in September. The number of members currently stands at 103. If anyone has any queries please do not hesitate to contact the Chairman at email@example.com.
The Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday 20th. April 2016 at the Coton and Hopwas Social Club, School Lane, Hopwas commencing at 7.30 p.m. The meeting will commence with a talk by a representative of the Ministry of Defence and the business part of the meeting will follow. Further details are in the April Newsletter which will distributed by the end of March.
On Monday 26th. October there will an emergency closure of the bridleways that run through Hopwas Wood from Wood Bridge through to Whittington. The bridleway from Hopwas Hill will also be closed at the Tarmac/MoD boundary. This will be effective for 21 days and in the meantime a temporary closure order will be made, closing the bridleways for a period of 18 weeks, which will be advertised in the local paper. The closures are to facilitate work on the firing ranges and improving the bridleways through the wood so that they can be used by military vehicles. This will necessitate the removal and cutting back of some trees either side of the bridleways and the surface of the bridleways will be stoned such that they are suitable for horses to use.Work is also being carried out to repair/reinstate the fence between Tarmacs land and the MoD, which the MoD should have done when the land transfer took place a few years ago
The latest newsletter is now ready to view on the Newsletter page. All members should have received a Newsletter, but if anyone has not, please contact the Chairman so we can check our records are up to date. Importantly the Newsletter gives notice of the Annual General Meeting which will be on Tuesday 14 April 2015 commencing at 7.30 p.m. at the Coton and Hopwas Social Club, School Lane, Hopwas. There will be a talk by a member of the Woodland Trust about ancient woodland. Non-members are welcome to attend but will have no voting rights during the business part of the meeting.
Lafarge Tarmac has asked Staffordshire County Council to withdraw Hopwas Woods from the Minerals Local Plan, which is currently under public consultation.
Stuart Wykes, Director of Land and Natural Resources, Lafarge Tarmac said:
“Following dialogue with stakeholders and partners we have asked Staffordshire County Council to withdraw the Hopwas Woods proposal from the Minerals Local Plan. We pride ourselves on working in harmony with local communities and want to do so at Hopwas”
“We want to work with local stakeholders on the stewardship of Hopwas Woods and we are willing to fund an independent study on its long term sustainability. This could include issues such as public access and environmental protection”
“We are committed to managing and enhancing the local habitat everywhere we operate.
We did not have firm plans to develop Hopwas but intended to use the public consultation on the Minerals Local Plan as an opportunity for dialogue to agree a way forward”
LaFarge Tarmac are trying to put part of Hopwas Wood into the Minerals Local Plan for Staffordshire.
Please read the October newsletter for more information and how to object to the proposal.
We are in contact with the Woodland Trust and local politicians and will be meeting with Staffordshire County Council in due course.