Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin braved the snow on the edge of Marsden Moor to launch a £7 million project which will see around 300,000 trees planted in the South Pennines over the next five years.

Mayor Brabin, who lives in Slaithwaite, joined Yorkshire Water chief executive Nicola Shaw and National Trust regional director Mike Innerdale at the launch of a major new conservation programme.

The mayor helped plant the first trees near Eastergate Bridge, an historic Grade II-listed pack horse bridge dating back to the 17th century.

Landscapes for Water is a £7 million, 5,500ha programme of landscape recovery devised by the National Trust and Yorkshire Water through their Common Cause partnership.

Across the next five years it will plant more than 350 hectares of new native woodland across five main areas of the South Pennines – around 300,000 trees.

National Trust rangers and members of the Colne Valley Tree Society, who are involved in the on-the-ground roll out of the programme, were on hand to help with the tricky practicalities of getting two-year-old bare-root saplings – known as whips – through the snow and into the ground.

Alongside the tree planting, the Landscapes for Water programme will include landscape-scale moorland restoration through the planting of sphagnum moss for moorland restoration and the installation of 3,500 leaky dams.

All the conservation will take place across five main areas of the South Pennines on National Trust and Yorkshire Water land.

As well as creating and improving wildlife habitats, the aim of the programme is to slow the flow of water across the moor, and to mitigate against flooding, wildfire and climate disaster.

Mayor Brabin said: “With recent storms and floods, we’ve seen the devastating effects of climate change first hand, and it’s vital we act now to reduce carbon emissions and protect our homes and businesses.

“We’re dedicated to working with partners to build a greener, more vibrant West Yorkshire that’s resilient for the future.”

The Trust’s report, A Climate for Change: Adaptation and the National Trust, published in November 2023, called for “greater ambition and action to tackle climate impacts nationally” – including more partnership work with other organisations.

Mike Innerdale from the National Trust said: “Landscapes for Water is one of the most important partnership projects that the National Trust has invested in as part of our organisation’s focus on Climate Change adaptation.

“We need help to look after the places in our care that benefit millions of people. By working together with our partners, like Yorkshire Water, the White Rose Forest and West Yorkshire Combined Authority, we can achieve far more than we could alone.”

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has contributed £1.9m to the programme’s plans for Natural Flood Management, which includes interventions, such as leaky dams, while the tree planting has been supported with over £1 million from the White Rose Forest, via their Trees for Climate programme, part of the Government’s Nature for Climate Fund.

Guy Thompson, the White Rose Forest’s programme director, said: “The new woodland planting around the edge of Marsden Moor is both hugely important and ambitious in terms of design and the benefits it will bring for local communities, biodiversity, wildfire prevention, and much more.

“It is also a significant contribution towards our wider White Rose Forest Plan to increase woodland cover across North and West Yorkshire.”