WILDLIFE campaigners have raised more than £21,000 in a bid to defend Askham Bog - but say they cannot risk celebrating yet.

Plans to build more than 500 homes on land near the bog were turned down by City of York Council in July.

Developer Barwood Land is now appealing the decision and a three-week public inquiry will be held next month.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - which runs the bog - launched a fundraising campaign to pay for legal advisors and experts to help fight the plans.

After hitting an initial target of £15,000 in less than a week, the trust said it is “grateful beyond words”. With legal costs rising, the organisation is asking for help to reach £25,000.

Clea Grady, communications manager at the trust, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support for our Save Askham Bog campaign.

“In less than a week after launching, we surpassed our target of £15,000 by more than £6,000 – which just goes to show how much this nature reserve means to the people of York.

“Sadly, we cannot risk early celebration, as we now know that it will cost more to defend Askham Bog at the upcoming public inquiry than we initially thought. We’re therefore asking those who treasure it as much as we do to keep sharing and supporting this vital campaign. Askham Bog is absolutely irreplaceable and we have a collective responsibility to protect it.”

Sir David Attenborough made fresh calls for “all those who love the natural world” to help fight the plans earlier this month.

Jamie Gibbins, managing director of Barwood, said: “The proposed development of land at Moor Lane presents an excellent opportunity to help address York’s acute housing needs, in particular, in an environmentally sustainable way. We are confident that the proposals are technically robust and will offer protection to Askham Bog for future generations.”

He added that a “permanent and impenetrable barrier” would be created on the northern edge of the bog.

For more information about the campaign visit chuffed.org/project/save-askham-bog.