‘David and Goliath’ battle to save our Countryside….

Our objection to the destruction of 276 acres of agricultural and wildlife rich land represents a real ‘David and Goliath’ battle against the Church of England Commissioners. In its current condition the site is a beautiful escape to nature, sandwiched between the three districts of Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. Chidswell fields and ancient woodlands are an area of outstanding natural beauty, bustling with wildlife, agricultural land and ancient bridle paths and footpaths, cutting through idyllic farm pastures. This makes it an irreplaceable habitat important for its wildlife, soils, recreational value and cultural, historical and landscape value. Ancient woodlands like these take centuries to establish and once they are gone, they are gone.

This development would effectively join up the surrounding districts into one great sprawling conurbation, almost making a new town, but killing off the wildlife and wiping out our countryside forever. We need to conserve these green areas, not destroy them. The ecosystem is damaged enough already. In the face of climate change and decline of many species, these sort of areas need to be protected.

This is a very frightening application, as development of this scale, right up to ancient woodlands, can potentially affect ancient and veteran trees, and the wildlife they support or nearby. A plethora of wildlife coexists in this complex ecosystem with over 50 species recorded and identified by our group to date; these include many notable species, alongside wild flowers and ancient woodlands. If this large housing and industrial development is built upon their habitat, where will they go? These development plans are therefore disastrously wrong.

The fields and ancient woodlands of Chidswell represent a ‘green lung’ to help us and our wildlife coexist and breathe cleaner air, likewise we know the streams that run through the land and into the nearby Hey Beck are like the ‘Kidneys’ of our healthy ecosystem, filtering out sediment and waste, cleaning the water and hosting an abundance and variety of organisms and wildlife, including rare species like Kingfishers. The pollution run off from this development will destroy that delicate ecosystem.

The wildlife that exists in the area and within the ecological system is happy to remain undisturbed. If this proposal goes ahead there will be a massive ecological effect on the site. Increased carbon monoxide emissions, would severely affect the congestion and air quality of the area due to the extra additional 4,742 vehicle journeys per day, at peak times, from 1,500 new houses and 35 hectares of industrial land, thus negatively impacting species, animals, all wildlife, including plants and trees. Numerous red-listed/endangered species may die out or not inhabit this countryside as a result of such a large-scale development.

We have grave concerns our countryside is being eroded and taken away for construction purposes, taking trees, woodlands, wildlife, losing high grade farm land and land for livestock. Particularly on former Greenbelt land, when there are plenty of other opportunities and funds attached to encourage Kirklees Council to develop brownfield land or regenerate existing buildings into real affordable housing.

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