Thrings supports charity in deal to create South West’s biggest new area of woodland

By Nick Batten on 21 May, 2024

A 100,000-tree woodland is set to be established between Bristol and Bath, in a deal advised by Thrings Solicitors.

The firm – which has offices throughout the South West including Swindon – has been advising charity Avon Needs Trees on the creation of its new 422-acre Lower Chew Forest. Once complete, the forest will be the biggest new woodland in the South West for a generation and a major local effort in response to the climate and ecological emergencies. 

Established in 2019, the Bristol-based charity is dedicated to creating new, permanent woodland across the Bristol-Avon river catchment. The organisation has been responsible for a series of successful projects in Bristol, Bath and Wiltshire, including the 100-acre woodland Great Avon Wood near Whitchurch. 

At the Lower Chew Forest, Avon Needs Trees plans to establish a new forest of 100,000 trees and shrubs, alongside a mosaic of new habitats including wetlands, a mile of new hedgerows and species-rich grassland. Opportunities will also be explored on the land for regenerative food production and agroforestry. As the lead advisor on all legal aspects of the deal, Thrings’ Agriculture, Corporate and Planning lawyers assisted in the securing of vital government funding, purchase of the land and negotiation of natural capital investment. The team also helped in liaising with the project’s external funding partners.

Led by the firm’s Head of Agricultural Property Neil Barbour, the team also included Partner Eve Laws, Senior Associate Joe Watkins and Planning and Environment Solicitor Harvey Davies.

Dave Wood, Chief Executive Officer of Avon Needs Trees, said, “The Lower Chew Forest will be the South West’s largest new woodland in a generation and one of huge significance to our region, particularly as we have just 7.8 per cent woodland cover in the West of England, which is critically low compared to 13.2 per cent average across the whole of the UK. 

“Our plans to create a forest-sized woodland and complementary habitats over 422 acres will bring a huge range of benefits to nature and our communities, including helping to tackle the climate emergency, improving biodiversity connectivity and providing a place for people to volunteer, learn and connect with nature. We are incredibly grateful for all our partners and supporters who have helped us realise the Lower Chew Forest.”

Neil Barbour, Partner in the Thrings Agriculture team and Head of Agricultural Property, said, “We are delighted to have supported Avon Needs Trees in securing the land and investment for Lower Chew Forest and want to congratulate Dave and the team for getting this important part of the project over the line. 

“The creation of this new woodland will be an important step in Avon Needs Trees’ work to contribute to the fight against climate change and we share their excitement in seeing the planting get underway!” 

Pictured above: Neil Barbour, Partner in the Thrings Agriculture team and Head of Agricultural Property