12 Aug 2022

U2 drummer and BBC presenter join hosts of celebrities in campaign to save Derry woodlands

Thousands of people, including high-profile celebrities such as Larry Mullen from U2, have signed a petition aimed at preserving an ancient woodland in Derry. The petition was set-up by George Mclaughlin and Damien Martin of the Prehen Historical and Environmental Society with support from BBC presenter and conservationist, Chris Packham. He and around 18,000 others are adamant that planning approval should not be granted for any future development at the Prehen Woods site ‘ever again’. Protestors have fought against the development since 2007 in order to preserve the ancient woodland and protect an endangered colony of red squirrels, along with other wildlife for future generations. The four houses are situated adjacent to Prehen Woods but a road connecting the new development to Prehen Park had to be constructed which campaigners said resulted in the removal of ‘scores of trees’ from the ancient woodland. A petition was posted on to highlight the ‘anomalies’ throughout the planning process and ‘disregard’ shown towards the revocation order, Mr McLaughlin said. It has garnered around 18,000 signatures thus far, including those from Chris Packham, wildlife TV presenter and conservationist, actress Dame Judi Dench, Larry Mullen of U2, James Nesbitt, creator of Derry Girls Lisa McGee and The Undertones. Chris Packham filmed in Derry recently and has taken a great interest in this campaign as well as the wider need to save ancient woodlands. In a statement, Mr Packam, pictured above with local campaigner George McLaughlin, said there had a ‘catastrophic failure’ in terms of accountability in relation to the plans. “This is not just about four houses and one beautiful old wood full of bluebells and wonderful wildlife,” he said, “this is about a catastrophic failure in the accountability of politicians, greed and idiotic short-termism. “We must preserve space, green space for the benefit of future generations, space which benefits our physical and mental health, space to ensure that we can retain the functional ecosystems we rely upon to produce our food and other resources. “To progress here would spit in the face of democracy, tarnish the reputation of the council forever and ruin the sanctity of a precious part of our planet and set a precedent for a cascade of further abuses of power.”

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