Barnsley campaigners plant tree on site of new warehouse to protest loss of former green belt space

Campaigners planted an apple tree on land at Hoyland where a 363,000sq sq ft warehouse is currently being built, in protest of the loss of green space.

A Hermes distribution hub is being built on former green belt land

The Hermes distribution hub is being built on former green belt land off Sheffield Road, and protesters trespassed on the site on Saturday (April 24).

When complete, the 363,000sq ft facility, named Colossus, will process up to 1.3 million parcels a day.

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Between three master plans for Hoyland, almost 2,000 new homes will be built, as well as the relocation of the Rockingham Sports Centre to Parkside Road.

Campaigners have asked that the tree they planted is allowed to grow.

However, the plans have been met with opposition – members of REACH (Rebuilding Environment And Community in Hoyland) and Extinction Rebellion Sheffield trespassed on the land, as a “symbolic gesture” to protest the loss of green space.

The tree was planted by Ci Davis, of Extinction Rebellion Sheffield, who requested that the tree was allowed to grow.

Although Barnsley Council held a six-week online public consultation, some believe this was not enough.

Susan Shaw, one of the protesters, said: “The destruction of the countryside without consultation is appalling. We’ll have no green space left.”

Steve Bacon has lived in Hoyland all his life. He says he has enjoyed the countryside in the area for 60 years, and can no longer walk far due to health problems.

“The only place I’ll be able to walk is between Industrial estates and houses. The information should have been sent to people’s homes, not just put on the [council’s] website.

“At no stage were we asked if we wanted this with a yes or no. People are upset because they don’t feel that councillors have stood up and had a voice.

“We’d like Hermes to minimise what’s going on, limit the number of trees being cut down. We formed a group so that the community will have a voice in the future.

Another protester, Paul Freer, called for land to be donated to be used by the public, to replace the land used for the scheme.

“I want to bring it up how Barnsley Council has treated the people of Hoyland,” he added.

Protesters moved to Rockingham sports club, in protest of football and archery facilities being moved to Parkside, which is currently public land.

A Barnsley Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the protest that took place at the Hoyland Common site and accept that people have strong feelings about the Masterplans for the Hoyland area. However, for people to access a construction site is trespassing. It is irresponsible and dangerous, and we urge people to keep off the site for their own safety.

“With any large development, we understand that there is an impact on our residents. We have worked hard to make sure the masterplan framework for Hoyland protects biodiversity, and we are committed to developing the surrounding landscape in this area as part of the long-term project, as we have successfully done on other sites.

“The masterplan will bring massive investment into the area, with overall investment in the site of around £60m. Local people will benefit from a new link road, to act as a bypass for Hoyland Common to ease congestion, and a new sporting and community facility.

“The relocation of the sports centre has been supported by the council, and we have been working with the Fitzwilliam Trust Corporation, the developer, and the Forge Community Partnership throughout. Long-term, this will provide a much-improved facility and a better recreational offer for the community.”