Councillors are set to rule on plans to remove scores of trees in ancient woodland in the Holme Valley.
Abacus Stone Sales wants to remove the trees as part of plans to create a vehicle access to a new storage area at its site at Hagg Wood on Woodhead Road, Honley.
Residents claim 170 trees will be lost if the plan is approved – pointing to a memo sent by Kirklees tree officer Joe Robertson to a planning officer colleague in June which says: “If the plans are accurate ... approximately 170 trees are proposed to be removed. Something I cannot support.”
However, a consultant for Abacus said it was proposed to remove only 12 mature or semi-mature trees and 30 or 40 saplings from the edge of the wood. Jonathan Cocking, of Halifax-based JCA Arboricultural Consultancy, said there would also be a substantial planting scheme for the site.
The agenda item for Thursday’s (Dec 21) strategic planning committee meeting shows no objection from Mr Robertson – subject to the area for stone storage and dressing being restricted in line with JCA’s “method statement” and subject to a number of planning conditions including compensatory tree planting to be carried out within 12 months of development starting.
An officer’s report to the committee said the proposal would allow a site which had previously received planning permission to be used to its full potential by providing a vehicular link between its two main areas.
It said: “As previously indicated, the site is in a sensitive location with regard the potential impact on local ecology, habitat provision including ancient woodland and local heritage assets. However, officers consider that the impacts associated with this development would be limited in scale and mitigation measures can be included to offset and any adverse effects.”
Kirklees councillor Nigel Patrick, who is opposing the plan, said he was “really surprised” that council officers were recommending approval, adding: “These woodlands are so rare, not just in Kirklees but around the country. If it wasn’t ancient woodland, there might be a reason to do it.”
He said planting young trees would not adequately replace the mature trees to be lost, branding it “tokenism”.
One resident, who asked not to be named, said the council had a duty to protect areas of woodland, adding: “You cannot replace trees that are so old. There is no economic requirement for this scheme. It is not generating more business for Abacus, it is simply to create more storage.”
Sean Lockwood, of Abacus, said he was “alarmed” at the suggestion 170 trees would be axed. He said the plan amended a previous permission and would mean more trees being retained than previously proposed.
Mr Lockwood stressed that the wood belonged to the company which allowed people to walk their dogs the children to play there.