The legend of Robin Hood has been invoked in an attempt to save an area of woodland being felled for a £6m wind farm.
Barnsdale Forest, in Labour Leader Ed Milliband’s Doncaster constituency, dates back centuries and featured in Russell Crowe’s 2010 blockbuster Robin Hood.
But although the woods are mentioned in folklore as one of Robin’s secret camps, they have never been listed as protected Ancient Woodland because of a legal loophole.
Now an energy company wants to fell part the Forest to make way for two 400ft wind turbines which would tower above the remaining trees.
But history enthusiast Ron Firth, of the nearby village of Campsall, has claimed to have found proof that Robin Hood lived in the area through his research into Tudor literature.
In 1550, John Leland, an antiquarian who travelled the country picking up stories about the way people lived, wrote: ‘I saw the wodd and famose Forrest of Barnsdale, where they say that Robyn Hudde liveyd like an outlaw.’
Mr Firth said: “We are desperately trying to cling on to what is good in the area particularly as it is likely to be damaged by something we don’t need which would be utterly worthless.
“We have had various public meetings and the villagers for miles around have voted 78 per cent against the wind turbines. “What gets my goat is Doncaster Council only recently put on an exhibition promoting Robin Hood in the area.”
York based developers Origin Energy said that they had researched the history of the area.
Head of the company Steve Carney said: “We commissioned a history study of the woods and Robin Hood’s name does crop up from time to time.
“The Russell Crowe movie was set around there so historically it may have been Robin’s old stomping ground.
“But the trees we want to take down are not linked to anything that might have existed in the distant past, certainly not in Robin Hood’s time.”
But Nikki William of the Woodland Trust called for the development to be stopped.
She said: “Clearly, the woods in the Barnsdale Forest area have strong local cultural links to myth and legend, including stories about Robin Hood.
“We also have reason to believe that Barnsdale Wood and White Leys Plantation, both of which are threatened by the application, are ancient.
“Ancient woodland is a rare, nationally important, irreplaceable habitat covering just two per cent of the UK and Government planning policy states that it should be protected.
“We have therefore advised Doncaster Council that no decision should be made before further information has been sought from the applicant regarding the antiquity of these woods and advice has been received from Natural England.
According to legend, Robin Hood married Maid Marion in Campsall’s 11th century parish church.
The outlaw was also said to tied the Bishop of Hereford to a tree in Barnsdale Forest and robbed him of his goods.
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