RHS Garden Wisley, and the local Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area, are under threat from Highways England’s M25/A3 plans and this is our last chance to get a positive outcome for the environment and our charity.
Please sign our e-petition
Why we are taking action?
Back in 2018, we launched a campaign to save Wisley’s trees and more than 134,000 of you signed our petition calling for our objections to be listened to. The petition was a powerful statement on the importance of RHS Garden Wisley and the difference it makes to the local community, but also the national relevance of the garden and the future of horticulture. We cannot thank you enough for your support, but sadly, while the ‘garden grab’ plans were changed, the proposals that remain still cause many critical concerns for the future of Wisley, some 44 important trees, and the local environment. Now the Secretary of State for Transport will have the final say on whether the scheme gets approval to start its construction.
What you can do
We need to ensure that your voice is heard at the highest levels of government. That's why we urge you to sign our e-petition to Parliament. We must show that these proposals do not have support and should be halted. We would also urge you to write to your local Member of Parliament asking for them to write to the Secretary of State for Transport.
Access template letter
Find out how to contact your local Member of Parliament on the UK Parliament website.
The UK Government can make its decision anytime between now and the end of the year, so we urgently need your support to save Wisley.
What’s the threat to our environment?
The impact of Highways England’s proposals would place 44 trees along our boundary with the A3 at risk. The plans being signed off by the Secretary of State would see 17 Grade II Heritage Trees being cut down. They would also see 27 trees, including North American redwood species (Sequioadendron giganteum) and 5 Grade II* Heritage Trees being at risk because the development could adversely affect the health of the trees by undermining root strength. Anyone who has seen these magnificent trees in person will tell you of the awe that they bring. We need your voice to ensure we can protect these beautiful trees.
However, the environmental harms of this proposal go much further than our trees and the future of our garden. Highways England have failed to correctly assess the impacts of the unnecessary extra mileage and the resulting pollution of their scheme on the Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area. This is important because an RHS Alternative Scheme has been provided to Highways England, which reduces the impact on the local villages, and the heathland surrounding the garden. By failing to take account of this fact, we are deeply concerned that our environment is unnecessarily being damaged for the future.
What’s the threat to the RHS?
Covid-19 has harmed many charities across the UK and the RHS is no different. Sadly, we expect to see losses of up to £18 million this year. As a charity, we receive no public funds and survive largely due to the support of our dedicated members. We work tirelessly to ensure that we can give back to you as much as you give us. Be it our expert advice teams who answer any questions from our members; our community outreach schemes designed to inspire future generations; or research and development of horticultural science, the RHS is a true investor in gardening. The impacts of Covid-19 will be felt for many years to come and this scheme will only exacerbate the problems we face.
Highways England’s scheme will see those wishing to visit the garden having to pass the garden up to four times and then have to negotiate the new junction twice. We have used this information, and expert advice, to calculate the costs to the RHS of these delays. We have learnt that this will see a reduction in our income of an estimated £6.6 million during the construction period alone. The reduction in income the RHS would face over the subsequent 10-year operational phase would total £19.2 million.
All these costs are avoidable and that is why we need you to sign our e-petition and/or write to your MP calling for the Secretary of State for Transport to make the right decision and stop Highways England’s proposals and adopt the RHS Alternative Scheme.
RHS Alternative Scheme
We have produced an alternative scheme to help improve access to the garden and reduce traffic travelling through local villages. Our safe and pragmatic approach will ensure that our heritage trees are protected and the concerns raised over air pollution can be addressed.
View graphics that illustrate the RHS Alternative Scheme.
Please sign our e-petition
Our heritage is at risk
Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, says: “Time is running out on our ability to get the right outcome and protect our heritage and the environment. If the Secretary of State for Transport approves the proposals by Highways England we will see an irreplaceable woodland lost and the local environment damaged beyond repair.
“The RHS is a member-driven organisation, and much of our income relies upon the 1.2 million visitors to our gardens. The additional 7.3 miles per vehicle, per visit that people will have to travel to RHS Garden Wisley will harm our visitor numbers and income. The UK Government has the power to refuse permission for this scheme and save our magnificent gardens.
“The trees at risk and the failure of Highways England to take into account the changes in the management of natural woodland surrounding the new junction will see air pollution worsen. We are seriously concerned that the wrong decision will be made and put the future of our garden at risk. We need your help to tell the Secretary of State that the RHS Alternative Scheme should be adopted and the Highways England scheme should be rejected: please sign our petition and/or write to your MP.”