Dorset Highways have resurrected their 2016 plan to fell all the trees in Dinah’s Hollow, re-profile the banks and insert concrete soil nails and mesh, such that no trees will be able to re-grow.
A bit of background: at the same time that Dorset Council was declaring a climate emergency, they were busy working as part of a quango made up of counties in the Southwest named the 'Western Gateway Shadow Sub-National Transport Body’ (see their report attached). This document is a wish list of 15 major schemes costing nearly £2 billion that will 'facilitate' the building of over 110,000 houses just in Dorset and Wiltshire alone (many along the new bypasses). The population and growth projections is this document were suspect in 2019, and are certainly not valid now.
On page 173, you can see listed a 'Melbury Abbas bypass. As the cost listed is only £83M, this tells me it is likely the ‘close-in bypass’ floated by various parties in the past that would necessitate the demolition of at least 6 listed houses in Melbury Abbas. Of course at this point it is just my well educated guess, as the council tells us next to nothing.
Sadly these elected bodies and their officers continue to equate road building with economic ‘growth', which numerous studies have shown to be a fallacy. See for example: https://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/the-end-of-the-road-challenging-the-road-building-consensus/.
Despite the changes we are currently going through, they continue to behave as if we are still living in the 1990s. Building a bypass is the first step for bringing in more housing estates which make a few insiders very rich, but destroys the countryside these councils claim to esteem.
To back up the claim for an £83million close in bypass for Melbury Abbas, DC presented an Economic Assessment report to the Cabinet on 28 July 2020. Now this is the first stage in getting the Melbury Road Works project re-listed, and this includes the work on Dinah's Hollow.
This work on the Hollow is being considered for approval by the DC Cabinet on the 8th of September 2020, without any prior consultation with the Parish Council., AONB, local residents or landowners.
As you may likely know, this 2016 scheme to denude Dinah's Hollow was fiercely opposed at the time by the AONB, CPRE, Parish Council, Shaftesbury Tree Group, and many other groups. There has never been a slip on the West bank, and the only slip on the East bank was caused by the action of Dorset Highways.
We would hope that Planet Shaftesbury would oppose the destruction of the ancient woodland in Dinah's Hollow. There is now an opportunity to transform the transport system to facilitate economic growth, meet legal obligations around carbon emissions and air quality, tackle social exclusion, and protect the countryside that makes Dorset unique and special. Continuing to waste funds on more failed schemes that promote use of polluting vehicles is not the way forward.