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Sunday, July 14, 2024

New £850k project set to help Kirklees wildlife thrive and reduce wildfire risk

The council is working on the scheme with Calderdale Council and other partners

A new project is set to help wildlife thrive, cut carbon, boost flood resilience, and reduce wildfire risk in Kirklees and Calderdale.

The ‘Calder and Colne Landscape Links’ (CCaLL) project aims to restore moorlands, plant trees, and create wildlife-rich habitats that better connect valley towns with moorland tops along the rivers Calder and Colne.

The project will be funded by £750,000 from the Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) Landscape Recovery programme, and £100,000 from the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.

Kirklees Council is working with partners including Calderdale Council, the Calder and Colne Rivers Trust, Environmental Projects in Kirklees (EPIKs) and Moors for the Future Partnership, and with support from the Environment Agency.

Both Kirklees and Calderdale councils are aiming to have net zero carbon emissions by 2038. Kirklees Council says the CCaLL project will help it achieve this target by:

  • Planting more trees, hedges, woodlands and wildflower meadows, restoring peat moorlands and creating wetlands.  All of these act as ‘sponges’, soaking up carbon dioxide and keeping it out of the atmosphere, as well as providing homes for wildlife.
  • Working with local farmers to manage land in a way that allow both food production and nature to thrive, whilst lessening the impact of climate change as much as possible and reducing carbon emissions.
  • And improving soil management will result in healthier soils which are better for farming, food production, Natural Flood Management, and carbon capture.

The initial two-year project will focus on engaging with landowners and other stakeholders, designing actions, identifying and securing any necessary permits, costing up works and seeking contractors to do the work, whilst bringing in further funding for the work. Up to nine new jobs will be created, which will be advertised this spring.

The expected long-term benefits include:

  • Reduced flood risk for homes and businesses as rainwater is held on the restored moorlands, slowing its flow into the valley towns. This builds on the excellent Natural Flood Management work already being carried out across the South Pennines.
  • Less risk of moorland fires, as a healthy moorland is less flammable.
  • More people being able to enjoy the benefits of a healthy, natural and cultural environment – for example, by making it easier for wheelchair and pushchair users, older people and those with dementia to access the countryside, canal towpaths and routes that are rich in cultural heritage connecting villages, mills and monuments.
  • Improving and creating new natural habitats for wildlife and helping to protect threatened native species, leading to a healthier, more vibrant, and interconnected mix of animals and plants.

Rachel Spencer-Henshall, Strategic Director for Corporate Strategy, Commissioning and Public Health, said: “Climate change will continue to throw challenges our way, and as the risk of flooding and wildfires rises along with global temperatures, we need to look to the future to safeguard our homes, local infrastructure, and of course, wildlife.

“We have to work with the natural world if we want it to work for us – that’s what this project will enable us to do along with our colleagues in Calderdale and the other project partners.

“This is a truly vital project which will help reduce the risk of flooding, boost biodiversity, improve local air quality and increase climate resilience in Kirklees and Calderdale.”

Jeff Keenlyside, Director of Environmental Projects in Kirklees (EPIKs), added: “EPIKs is delighted to be a partner in the CCaLL project. The valleys of the Calder and Colne rivers have fantastic potential for nature restoration and as connected natural green space for local communities to enjoy. This an ideal opportunity to realise that potential.”

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