Have a say on health decision

PEOPLE from the Guildford, Waverley and Woking areas are being invited to attend a meeting about how they can influence health and social care decisions in Surrey. Patient watchdog, the Surrey LINk, offers an opportunity for people to have their say on what is on offer and what is needed from hospitals, doctors, dentists, social services and more. A spokesman for the Surrey LINk said: “Come and learn more about how you can get involved. “We want to hear about your experiences of health and social care services and your ideas for improvements and changes.” For more details of the event on the morning of Wednesday July 27 at 10am please call 01483 447 131 or visit makeadifferencesurrey.eventbrite.com to book a free place.

New map brings extra protection for woodland
by Melanie Hall
A NEW mapping project covering Surrey which has reclassified some wooded sites in the county as ancient woodland could impact on planning decisions. The recently published revised edition of the Ancient Woodland Inventory for Surrey has added 1,991 hectares of ancient woodland to its original tally of 9,944, increasing the area of land with this classification by 20%. The reason for this increase is not because the area of ancient woodland has actually gone up, but because a number of sites were not included in the original 1988 survey because they were smaller than two hectares. For the latest survey, however, all areas of ancient woodland, no matter how small, were included. The revised survey was a partnership project, which has taken two-and-a-halfyears and has mapped all the areas of ancient woodland in Surrey using Geographical Information System computer software in the interest of conservation. It forms one of the most accurate and reliable habitat inventories in England. Ancient woodland is classified as any site that has been continuously wooded since 1600, and is considered to be an irreplaceable and extremely valuable resource. The inventory now includes 2,827 sites, covering 11,935 hectares or 7.1% of the county. The project report details the changes in recognised ancient woodland for every

Look out for motorbikes
A NEW joint campaign by Surrey County Council and Surrey Police encourages drivers to look out for mopeds and motorbikes, particularly during busy commuting periods. From Monday July 18, hard-hitting images will urge motorists: “Don’t just look for motorbikes. See them.” This latest Drive SMART campaign will specifically focus on keeping young riders safe, also calling for them to be aware of drivers who are not concentrating.

Carpet of the Surrey rarity Herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia) in ancient woodland near Caterham. Picture: Rob Davies. borough and district in Surrey. The area of ancient woodland went up by 30% in Guildford, rising from 1,261 hectares to 1,650. Mole Valley saw an increase of 20%, rising from the 2,696 hectares counted in the 1988 survey to 3,237 hectares – ancient woodland now covers 12.5% of the district. Being under pressure from development in Surrey – the most wooded county in England – this inventory will help local authorities, which have a statutory duty to identify all ancient woodland within their area, ensure future development is environmentally sustainable. In the report, author Robert Davies states that: “The revised inventory will assist planners in making decisions about development within Surrey, ensuring that the effects of any development proposals on ancient woodlands can be properly assessed and considered.” Commenting on the revised inventory, Carol Humphrey, Guildford Borough Council’s head of planning, said: “The amount of ancient woodland in Surrey has gone up and that’s not surprising – I think it’s a really good result and I think that’s to be applauded.” In terms of how it would affect the borough council’s decisions on planning applications, she said: “There always has been the requirement for local planing authorities to take into consideration biodiversity. “That hasn’t changed. “If someone wanted to develop on woodland, we would be very mindful, woodland or ancient.” However, regarding ancient woodland, she added: “We would be even more concerned when we deal with planning applications than perhaps we were. “But I suppose there’s a difficulty at the moment in balancing biodiversity with the government’s growth agenda, in order to assist the economic recovery of the country.” This refers to the pressure on planning authorities by the government to allow applications by developers. Last month, the coalition government stated that it intends to require all planning authorities to ‘approve all individual proposals wherever possible’. According to Alistair Kirk, manager of the Surrey Biodiversity Information Centre which produced the report together with Surrey Wildlife Trust, the classification of more sites as ancient woodland will afford them greater protection. “The existing guidance that the government provides to planning authorities such as Guildford Borough Council specifically mentions ancient woodland as an important habitat,” he said. “Clearly as the original map was limited to areas bigger than two hectares, there’s the potential that the smaller areas might have been missed. So hopefully the survey will mean planning authorities can be better-informed decisions.”

Awards for cadets
AIR cadets aged between 13 and 17 from Guildford won several prizes at a recent drill competition in Croydon last weekend. The 261 Guildford Squadron Air Training Corps won a trophy for best uniform and a drill trophy and were joint winners of the cup for drill ability at the Surrey Wing Drill Competition. Sgt Alastair Linthwaite, said: “This year saw a very close competition, with many squadrons having spent considerable amounts of time training to win the prestigious trophy.

Pensioner fined for driving without a licence
AN 85-year-old man was fined £115 after driving his car without a licence, admitting he knew it had been revoked but that it ‘wasn’t fair’. Michael Davis, from Forest Road in East Horsley, appeared at South West Surrey Magistrates Court on July 8, where he pleaded guilty to driving without a licence. The court heard that on April 8, Davis drove a Nissan on Ockham Road South in East Horsley without a licence. He spoke to a police officer on April 21, and was asked to produce a driving licence as a result of a road traffic collision. Davis explained to the police officer that his licence had been taken from him on medical grounds after he had a stroke. Prosecuting solicitor Zeltia Carrera said: “The officer asked you if you realised you should not be driving, and you said you did know but it was unfair. “You told the officer that you were getting your car back next week and the officer said that if you drove it then the vehicle would be seized.” Davis was ordered to pay a fine of £50, a further £50 towards costs and a victim surcharge of £15 – making a total of £115. Three points were also put on his licence, although he no longer drives.