LOCAL people with an eye on the area's literary heritage fear it could soon be hidden under rows of polytunnels, where poets once walked and dreamed.

An area of 20 hectares, the size of 22 football pitches, could be covered.

An appeal is underway over the Forest of Dean District Council's refusal of planning permission for the erection of polytunnels, the building of a sedimentation pond and two reservoirs, together with the movement of an existing bridleway at Redhill Farm, Redmarley, also known as Springfield Farm (P1706/12/FUL).

The farm is close to Poets Path 1, which is promoted by the Friends of the Dymock Poets as a scenic walk which would have been well-known to the Dymock Poets, prior to the outbreak of the First World War.

Member Barbara Davis of Ryton, who draws maps for the walks said: "They would have known the area, definitely. It is a really important area for the Dymock Poets, particularly in the case of Robert Frost and Edward Thomas."

It was on Poets Path 1 where the two poets encountered an irate and armed gamekeeper, who asked them their business.

The American Frost stood up to the gamekeeper, and raised his fists, but Thomas was less keen to challenge him and afterwards may he felt he had not acquitted himself so well. This may have been a factor in Thomas deciding to volunteer for the Western Front, where he was killed in 1917.

Mrs Davis said of the idea of polytunnels in that area: "It tarnishes the landscape. if you walk, you need of refreshment in a natural landscape, untainted by big money."

Former Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, also waded in with his views, earlier this year.

He said: “These are the pathways and fields beloved of the Dymock Poets – the places where Edward Thomas walked with Robert Frost, and where they all in their different ways used the landscape as their inspiration and subject. I can just about see the agricultural and financial case for the proposal to cover it with poly tunnels, but really and truly it would be a horrendous act of vandalism to do so. It is one of the most significant literary sites in England, and deserves to be protected for that reason alone – not to mention its particular and outstanding beauty.”

Local campaigner Anne Rogers said: "They bravely went to fight in order to save “this green and pleasant land”. Amongst those who went were two of the Dymock Poets ,Rupert Brooke and Edward Thomas,who never returned to walk the paths around this area and admire the unique landscape they had so enjoyed.

"What memorial is planned for them? Polytunnels will cover this beautiful land, graced in the spring by it’s wild daffodils. The land they so enjoyed and fought for. All this for asparagus."

The site is owned by Cobrey Farms, well-known asparagus producers, based at Ross on Wye.

They were phoned for a comment, but this was still awaited at the time of going to press.

Comments regarding the appeal must be in by August 27.

Three identical copies per respondent must be sent to Planning Inspectorate, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN - reference: APP/P1615/A/14/2222112.