Over 700 trees to replace those lost to proposed road scheme – Long term benefits of improved road schemes will outweigh the short term impact of tree replacement programme
Kirklees Council cabinet members have defended the proposal to expand the A629 on the approach to Ainley Top from Huddersfield. Environmental campaigners have raised concerns that the widening of the road will result in the loss of mature trees, and state that this will have a negative environmental impact. However, council officers remain committed to the scheme which they say will have a longer term positive impact on climate change.
Cabinet members were keen to reassure campaigners and local people that any trees removed as part of the scheme will be replaced with mature trees at the new boundary lines. They have made images of the planting schemes available for interested parties to view on their website.
Comprehensive re-planting scheme
In total, up to 126 trees will be removed, however a comprehensive re-planting scheme is being offered to all affected landowners. This will lead to semi-mature trees (5-7m tall) being planted to replace those lost.
The Blacker Road / Edgerton Road junction will see 52 trees planted in residential gardens, a further 3 within Edgerton Cemetery and 35 within the new highway.
At the Halifax Road/ Birkby Road junction 12 replacement trees have been offered to the Church of Latter Day Saints along with 6 trees within an affected residential garden and 12 within the new residential off-street parking area.
These trees will be planted as the scheme progresses rather than at the end, to minimise the visual and environmental impacts.
At Ainley Top, around 650 young trees will be planted to create a new woodland. Substantial hedgerow and other planting will also be provided. In total over 750 new trees will be planted along the route.
Who is delivering the scheme?
The £120M A629 scheme is being delivered by Kirklees Council in partnership with Calderdale Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority with funding from the West Yorkshire plus transport fund. The section between Ainley Top and Huddersfield being just one section of the A629 improvements, which will see £12m of the total investment.
What is the aim of the scheme?
The overarching A629 scheme aims to encourage economic growth by improving access to Halifax and Huddersfield from the M62. It will also provide the infrastructure for faster, and improved bus journeys between Halifax and Huddersfield.
Dedicated cycle and pedestrian routes will make it safer and more pleasant to take up active travel to places along the route, and connect the road to other schemes being developed across the region.
The combined impact of the above measures, is expected to lead to reduce congestion and emissions providing a cleaner and more environmentally friendly road system, that will contribute to our climate emergency ambitions.
Cllr Naheed Mather, Cabinet Member for Greener Kirklees said:
“I would like to reassure local people that the majority of trees being removed, will be replaced in the new property boundaries. We will also be offsetting the loss off the original trees by creating a significant new woodland, planting in total over 700 trees, improving existing wildlife habitats, as well as making biodiversity improvements at Ainley Top.
It remains our priority to leave the areas in a much improved condition, recognising parts of the scheme affect a Conservation Area.
In addition to the planting of trees the scheme has wider environmental benefits. The A629, between Huddersfield and Halifax, suffers from extensive delays, congestion and poor air quality. The wider scheme will lead to a cleaner environment, by making it easier to use more sustainable public transport, and by reducing carbon emissions and pollution from queuing cars.”
Cllr Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration said:
“The wider scheme which is being developed in partnership with Calderdale Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority includes comprehensive improvements to cycling and public transport including two cycle routes that connect residential areas either side the A629 corridor and rail stations in Huddersfield and Halifax providing for longer more sustainable journeys.
We value the input of environmental and local groups and have recently shared our proposals with Friends of the Earth, Save Greenhead Trees and Greenpeace in advance of submitting a planning application. We will also continue to work with local residents and landowners as the scheme develops and there will be a full consultation as part of the planning process. Whilst we understand the concerns of the protesters, it is essential that we remove some trees in order to widen some parts of the road for this important scheme.”