Opponents of plans to build holiday lodges in county woodland are making last-ditch efforts to stop the scheme being approved.
Forest Holidays has submitted a planning application to build 70 lodges in Fineshade Woods, a scheme that has horrified many, who fear the destruction of habitat for protected species and the loss of acres of woodland.
Barrie Galpin, who lives at Top Lodge, opposes the plans. He said: “It feels like David versus Goliath.
“Forest Holidays is owned by Lloyds venture capitalists and there are only a few of us.
“If the plans are approved it will be a catastrophe for biodiversity and wildlife. We hope East Northamptonshire councillors will oppose the scheme.
“All seven parish councils are against it and the Wildlife Trust has put in its strongest objection against any planning application ever.
“An ad hoc survey found dormice and nightjars in the forest, which were thought to be extinct in Northamptonshire.
“The plans will see two miles of roads going through the woods.
“This application is totally motivated by money, if it was to build something necessary like a hospital it would be different. Forest Holidays have never tried to build in a site with so much biodiversity before and it makes no sense where it will have such a deadly impact.”
The Wildlife Trust’s objection to the plan said that the woods are important for a wide range of woodland habitats supporting many protected species.
It added: “A large part of the wood is currently difficult to access and is consequently particularly sensitive.
“It is exactly this area that Forest Holidays propose to develop.”
Mr Galpin and other opponents of the plan are meeting Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Andy Sawford at the woods on tomorrow (Friday, February 13) from 10am to 11am to voice their opposition and to raise awareness of the plans.
Mr Sawford said: “This is a wonderful area of ancient woodland which I know is enjoyed by many of my constituents. I fully understand the concerns of people here about the impact of this development on this fragile environment and I hope that East Northants councillors will listen carefully to what these residents are telling them and reject this application.
“In Parliament I have voted against the Government’s forest sell-off and the plans for thrown out. Now though it seems like there is a privatisation of our woodlands by stealth by the Forestry Commission.”
Mr Galpin added: “It is an inspired place, as the sign says. But it already has 100,000-plus visitors a year. Will they want to come when there is a holiday camp here? Perhpas it is time to say enough is enough.”
The application has received more than 100 letters of objection and none in support.
It will be discussed by East Northamptonshire’s planning committee on Wednesday, February 18.