The National Planning Policy Framework already contains protections for ancient woodland. For example, it states that planning permission should be refused for development that would result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, which includes ancient woodland and veteran trees.
The recent Housing White Paper went further by announcing a proposal to clarify planning policy on ancient woodland and upgrading their protection to the same level as the green belt. In order to develop this further, Ministers will be considering everyone's views.
Ministers want to protect and enhance our woodland habitats. Over 11 million trees were planted in the last Parliament and there is a pledge to plant a further 11 million in this one. England's woodland cover is now expanding at a rate that has not been seen since the fourteenth century.