THE Secretary of State's decision to dismiss plans for more than 500 homes on land next to Askham Bog was met with joy from residents and wildlife campaigners today.

Sir David Attenborough backed a campaign to see the planning application turned down - saying the nature reserve is “irreplaceable” and that the housing plans were comparable to building next to York Minster.

A campaign was launched to halt the plans - and following a three week planning inquiry in November 2019 the Secretary of State has sided with City of York Council in rejecting the scheme.

A spokesperson for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - which manages the nature reserve and fundraised £39,000 to make a case at the planning inquiry - said the team is "overjoyed".

They thanked their supporters and the council, adding: "We are thrilled that Askham Bog can now continue to thrive as a special place for wildlife and the people of York for years to come.

"Our vision is to protect and restore our natural world, help wildlife to thrive and ensure a greener future for us all.

"In the midst of the climate emergency, and recognising the joy that nature is providing at the current time, the decision to protect Askham Bog is a welcome step in the right direction."

The council's planning committee refused to grant permission for the scheme in July 2019 - but the developers appealed the decision and the council was dragged into a planning inquiry over the decision.

Developers Barwood claimed the housing development would “offer protection to Askham Bog for future generations” and help address York’s housing crisis.

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy confirmed the appeal had been dismissed, saying: “In these difficult times I am delighted to report some good news for everyone who cares about the local environment here in York.

"Local people have been unanimous in their opposition to the development proposals near Askham Bog.

"The work to conserve Askham Bog goes on and I hope that this news means it will remain a special place for generations to come.”

Cllr Stephen Fenton, who attended the planning inquiry and spoke out against the scheme, said news that the government has sided with the council is a relief.

He said: “I am delighted that Askham Bog has been saved – this is a real victory for our community.

“Today’s news will come as a huge relief for local residents who had considerable concerns about the impact that this number of homes would have had on local infrastructure such as roads and healthcare services which are already struggling."

More than 7,600 people objected to the planning application when it was submitted.

Sir David Attenborough called on "all those who love the natural world" to support the campaign, saying: "It is hugely valued by the people of York and by all naturalists and is part of our cultural and natural heritage." It is our collective responsibility to save it."

“So much of the natural world is in peril and now, more than ever before, ancient places like Askham Bog, rich in biodiversity, must be protected."

Developers Barwood has been approached for a comment.