A significant tree planting initiative is set to commence in Halifax as a component of the A629 Calder and Hebble phase 1b project.

More than 100 semi-mature trees will be placed on the site, accompanied by an additional 250 trees in close proximity, in conjunction with the establishment of a new wildflower meadow.

A native scrub and willow habitat will be crafted between the fresh roundabout intersection at Stainland Road and the Calder & Hebble Navigation Canal.

The A629 Calder and Hebble phase 1b project, financed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, constitutes a substantial enhancement program for roadways along a crucial path leading into the heart of Halifax town centre. Extending from Salterhebble Hill in the north to Elland Wood Bottom in the south, this project encompasses enhancements at the junction with the A6026 and B6112 Stainland Road.

The blueprint of the plan is designed to ameliorate traffic flow and provide individuals with enhanced alternatives, empowering them to opt for journeys with reduced emissions or none at all. This endeavour will simplify walking, cycling, or employing public transportation along the A629 between Huddersfield and Halifax, with the hopeful outcome of enhanced air quality.

Furthermore, it will amplify the connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists linking Halifax town centre with other pivotal routes for active travel. This encompasses the National Cycle Network Route 66 and the Calder & Hebble Navigation towpath, streamlining the processes of walking, cycling, and public transport usage.

Given that cycling instead of driving a car can lead to an approximate reduction of 376 grams of carbon dioxide per mile, the cumulative annual savings of carbon dioxide could surpass 21 tonnes by the year 2026, taking into account a mean two-mile journey.

Communities in close proximity, including Elland, West Vale, Siddal, Exley, Copley, and Skircoat, are anticipated to enjoy diminished instances of through traffic.

In order to pave the way for the novel footpath and cycleway, it is necessary to remove 30 trees from the roadside, comprising 19 from the A629 Huddersfield Road and 11 from the A6206 Stainland Road.

This course of action adheres to prior public consultations and planning authorisations, and it is indispensable for broadening the route adequately to ensure the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. The footpath has been rendered uneven due to roots from the trees, causing inconvenience for individuals using wheelchairs or pushchairs.

The plan was meticulously structured to retain as many trees as feasible while also safeguarding the adjacent ancient woodland at Exley Bank.

To execute the task securely and mitigate disturbances, the trees will be extracted during overnight hours commencing at the end of August. An ecological assessment has been conducted, and an ecologist will remain on-site throughout the process to safeguard any nesting avian inhabitants.

Cllr Scott Patient, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Action, Active Travel and Housing said; “This scheme will help us to deliver the Council’s commitment to tackle climate change, improve air quality and improve opportunities for active travel as well as stimulating sustainable economic growth.

“Once the programme has been completed there will be many more trees around the site, as well as the new wildflower meadow and scrub and willow habitat. Not only will this make an attractive addition to the landscape, it will also support our local wildlife and encourage biodiversity.”

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said; “This fantastic tree planting scheme will help improve air quality across Calderdale, boosting people’s health and wellbeing.

“The climate crisis isn’t going away, so it’s vital we act now to cut our carbon emissions, enhance our natural environment and support West Yorkshire’s journey to net zero by 2038.

“I’m committed to working with our partners to build a greener, more vibrant West Yorkshire.”

The Council is working on the project in partnership with its contractor, John Sisk & Son.

The full phase 1b project is due to be completed by summer 2024. Some elements will be open earlier, such as the new link bridge which is due to open to traffic in autumn this year. Most of the road network is expected to be open by early 2024.