Sarah Ferguson makes plea to save trees felled by new Amazon warehouse

You must be j-oak-ing! Sarah Ferguson makes impassioned plea to scrap plan to build ‘massive’ Amazon warehouse in Hampshire countryside where she grew up which would ‘brutally’ fell dozens of 130-year-old trees

  • Duchess of York, 61, shared her desire to save the trees on her Instagram page
  • Dozens of decades old trees in ancient woodland corridor will be destroyed to make way for a 220,000sqm, 23.5m tall distribution hub thought to be Amazon’s
  • Trees at risk inspired Fergie to write children’s book The Enchanted Oak Tree

The Duchess of York today gave an impassioned plea to scrap controversial plans to build a ‘massive’ Amazon warehouse – because historic trees she adored as a child will be felled.

Sarah Ferguson, 61, said she was ‘absolutely horrified’ to discover that dozens of 130-year-old trees in an ancient woodland corridor will be destroyed to make way for the enormous unit.

Under new proposals which already have the green light, a beautiful part of the Hampshire countryside will be ‘brutally chopped down’ for a 220,000sqm, 23.5m tall distribution hub thought to be used by online giants Amazon.

The area affected by the plans is the village of Dummer – which is where Fergie grew up on a farm and was taught to love trees by her father Ronald Ferguson.

The Duchess of York today gave an impassioned plea to scrap controversial plans to build a ‘massive’ Amazon warehouse – because historic trees she adored as a child will be felled

In total, 67 mature oaks, three Grade A mature beech trees and 13 other oak trees – all of which support 2,300 species of wildlife – will be wiped out.

It is these very trees that inspired the duchess to write her children’s book The Enchanted Oak Tree, which was created to pass on the magic of an old oak tree to kids.

Writing on Instagram, she said: ‘Even now at 61, and as a new grandmother, I have the most vivid and happy memories of growing up on a farm in Dummer, near Basingstoke.

‘I remember my father telling me always to recognise and be grateful for the beauty of our surroundings, a lesson I have carried into adulthood and passed onto my own daughters.


Sarah Ferguson, 61, said she was ‘absolutely horrified’ to discover that dozens of 130-year-old trees in an ancient woodland corridor will be destroyed to make way for the enormous unit

Under new proposals which already have the green light, a beautiful part of the Hampshire countryside will be ‘brutally chopped down’ for a 220,000sqm, 23.5m tall distribution hub thought to be used by online giants Amazon. Pictured is a general view of the Oakwood Farm business units (circled) and surrounding land (outlined in red) which forms the planning proposal area around the old road into Dummer near Basingstoke, Hants

‘One lesson he taught me in particular was to admire trees – to look up and drink in their magnificence and to feel a sense of awe at their importance in the landscape.

‘To me they are always to be respected and nurtured. We need to be deeply grateful for how they support Mother Nature. 

‘As a girl, I remember particularly loving the oak trees in and around Dummer, including those which formed an avenue on the old road into the village.

‘These trees inspired my children’s book The Enchanted Oak Tree (in honour of and in thankfulness for my father, my oak tree has his big red bushy eyebrows!) which was published last year.

‘The book was designed to pass on the magic of an old oak tree to the next generation, inspired by the trees I grew up with.

The plans, put forward by Newlands Property Developments, were approved at a Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council meeting last month. However, they have been met by backlash from scores of local residents, politicians and even councillors from Basingstoke and Deane

Fergie, the former wife of Prince Andrew, added: ‘I really cannot bear the thought that anyone would think it possible to cut down these incredible trees that have inspired me for decades for storage space. These plans must be brought to a halt before it is too late.’ Pictured: the Duchess of York’s childhood home in Dummer, Hants

‘So I was absolutely horrified to hear that approval has been given by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council for a massive, 220,000 square metre warehouse – apparently to be occupied by Amazon – which will mean these trees being brutally chopped down.

‘The proposals will destroy the woodland corridor of 67 mature oaks and three mature beech trees of Grade A status on the old road into Dummer, plus a further 13 oak trees.

‘Wildlife experts say that some of these trees are 130 years old, and each one supports up to 2,300 species of wildlife, including important bird and insect species and bats.’

Fergie, the former wife of Prince Andrew, added: ‘I really cannot bear the thought that anyone would think it possible to cut down these incredible trees that have inspired me for decades for storage space. These plans must be brought to a halt before it is too late.’

 Urging people to sign a petition which has nearly 100,000 signatures, Fergie said: ‘We cannot afford to keep losing valuable trees from an already fragmented landscape’

According to Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the development will prevent wildlife from moving between two sites in what is a wooded avenue that Fergie ‘remembers so well’.

She also raised concerns that ‘up to 1,750 houses are already being built next to the site, with an extra 1,600 HGV movements every day’, adding that trees won’t be there to ‘act as the lungs for the local community’.

Urging people to sign a petition which has nearly 100,000 signatures, Fergie added: ‘We cannot afford to keep losing valuable trees from an already fragmented landscape.

‘A petition aimed at stopping the felling of the trees has now gained more than 95,000 signatures. The strength of opposition is clear from this massive support. But we need more local people to sign up in order to force the council to rethink its plans.

The Duchess’ book was designed to ‘pass on the magic of an old oak tree to the next generation, inspired by the trees I grew up with’

‘If you want to save the trees, sign the petition… then lobby your local councillor and MP to intervene as well.

‘Already, several MPs from across the county have signed a letter to the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, asking him to have the plans inspected by a public enquiry and decided on at a national level.

‘In my view, this development is unsustainable and completely at odds with Basingstoke and Deane’s recent declaration that we are facing a climate emergency and commitments to a net zero borough by 2030.’

The plans, put forward by Newlands Property Developments, were approved at a Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council meeting last month. However, they have been met by backlash from scores of local residents, politicians and even councillors from Basingstoke and Deane.

Six MPs, including Basingstoke’s Maria Miller, have called on central government to ‘call in’ the decision.

Matt Thomas, on behalf of the applicant, claimed the developers have a ‘sustainable travel plan’ worth £1.4 million, while agent Ms Davis added that there would be ‘no impact’ visually on nearby Dummer and that the site would create 1,500 jobs.

The footprint of the site on the ground is just over 58,000 square metres, however the overall capacity of the warehouse – which will have multiple storeys – is 220,000 square metres.

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