Liberal Democrat councillors in Lindley and Golcar have called for trees, not homes, on land at Longwood Edge.
The councillors have been campaigning with local residents and local groups, including Huddersfield Friends of the Earth and Longwood Edge Climate Action Group, for tree-planting on the fields at Longwood Edge, off Longwood Edge Road and close to Huddersfield New College and Salendine Nook High School.
The land, which straddles the Lindley and Golcar wards, includes approximately 16.5 hectares of fields and is owned by Kirklees Council. The beauty spot is well used for recreational activities and by local dog walkers.
Recently, Kirklees Council confirmed that nearly one-third of the site will be allocated for tree-planting and this will form part of the wider White Rose Forest scheme, which aims to increase woodland across West and North Yorkshire and is committed to planting 50 million trees across the region over the next 25 years.
The remaining two-thirds of the land is currently the subject of a review by the council and Kirklees Council Asset Board are currently considering options and uses for the land.
However, rather than allocating the remaining space for new homes, Lindley councillors Cahal Burke and Anthony Smith want the land to be used for additional tree planting.
Clr Burke said: “It’s vital that we protect the green spaces we have. There has been an enormous amount of development in the Lindley ward in the last decade or so. In comparison to other wards in the district, it has been disproportionate.
“There are real concerns about the loss of green spaces and the impact of these developments on the local infrastructure, so we are campaigning with local residents and groups as well as our Liberal Democrat colleagues in Golcar, Clr Andrew Marchington and Clr Robert Iredale, to oppose further housing development.
“We want trees to be planted at Longwood Edge, but it’s also important that the land is maintained properly by the council and is not neglected.
“We have organised a petition and we know there is strong local support for protecting the green space and planting more trees.
“Trees are essential for our environment. Planting trees helps to beautify our landscapes and they also improve our air quality by filtering harmful pollutants. Trees can also slow the flow of water downstream and can help to reduce flooding. Trees also provide food, protection and homes for many species of wildlife.
“As well as creating space for nature and creating habitats, trees and green spaces are vital to people as well, providing health and social well-being benefits, reducing stress and promoting physical activity.”
Clr Smith added: “Protecting green spaces and supporting tree planting is hugely important. A green space with tree cover improves biodiversity, protects wildlife and contributes to carbon reduction.
“We believe that planting more trees will help the council to achieve its target of becoming carbon-neutral by 2038. Trees draw down carbon from the air and absorb it in their trunks, branches and leaves.
“However, we need to do much more locally to promote tree-planting and increase tree cover. According to Forestry Commission data, the percentage of land in Kirklees which includes woodland cover is only 8.4% compared to 13% nationally. Planting more trees at Longwood Edge will help to address this deficit.”
The petition can be found at https://www.kirkleeslibdems.org.uk/longwood_edge.