A WOODLAND group are hoping to get the backing of the Warrington South MP as they face being evicted from Spud Wood in Lymm.
Muddy Hands have been getting pre-school and primary school youngsters outdoors and involved in activities including making dens, building fires and toasting marshmallows for more than a year.
But the business is now under threat after complaints of noise from neighbours led to the Woodland Trust asking the group to leave the site off Stage Lane.
Jamie Knowles, who set up the business, said: “We organised parties for kids where they can get dirty outdoors and cook their own food and they’re laughing and giggling not screaming and shouting.
“That’s not a horrible noise to me so I can’t understand where the complaints came from.
“It’s a real shame as it’s a massive woodland and we’re doing no harm to it, clean up all the rubbish and now five members of staff could be made redundant.”
A council spokesman confirmed the site had been visited to check for compliance with planning and noise laws and no breaches were found but Jamie says despite that the Woodland Trust are now reluctant to work with them.
The Latchford dad added: “It’s publicly-owned woodland but the Woodland Trust said we needed to have a contract with them.
“They said we couldn’t have more than 20 children in a group but that would stop schools from attending.
“There was a bit of debate about it and then we had the noise pollution complaints and the Woodland Trust didn’t want us on the site anymore.
“Warrington would lose something unique for children and rather than playing outdoors kids will be sent to indoor centres.
“I can’t understand why the Woodland Trust wouldn’t support something getting kids in the woodlands.”
The 30-year-old former pre-school manager said youngsters had travelled from as far as Blackburn and Manchester to attend sessions as well as being popular with Warrington schools and assumes dog walkers had complained about the noise.
He will now be collecting all the feedback the group has on Facebook to take with him to a meeting with the Warrington South MP in the hope he can help him keep the business open.
Alistair Crosby, Woodland Trust regional manager, said they welcome ‘responsible use’ of woods but it must be ‘formalised in a licence agreement’ which is required of all forest school providers which conduct their activities upon sites with the consent of the Woodland Trust.
He added: “This ensures that the correct insurance and accreditations are in place to provide adequate safety and protection for all those participating in forest school activities as well as the Woodland Trust.
“Spud Wood is a well loved community resource enjoyed by all but we and local residents have become increasingly concerned with the risk of potential damage to the fragile nature of Spud Wood, due to the increased amount of unauthorised activity taking place - a risk which can be easily avoided by working together collaboratively for the benefit of the community as a whole.”