Creating a greener district, together

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Regeneration isn’t just about creating new buildings and urban developments, it’s also about creating new outside spaces aimed at improving our health and wellbeing.

In a post-Covid world, the importance of outside public spaces has increased significantly, and this is being reflected in what residents have told the Council at various focus groups and workshops. People have a newfound appreciation for places that allow them to get back to nature and enjoy being outdoors.

Roger Parker, a volunteer with the Woodland Trust, has spent more than 35 years helping to create new forests and woodlands, supporting projects that have led to the planting of tens of thousands of new trees across the Wakefield district. 

This month, he was invited to speak at the 2024 Climate Change Summit as Wakefield Council’s Net Zero partnership reconvened to share green ideas. Various local partners attended including West Yorkshire Police, the Woodland Trust and the National Coal Mining Museum for England.

Roger explained the importance of trees, likening them to a piece of industrial engineering “Half the weight of a tree is water. So, a four-ton tree will hold two tons of rainfall, helping to reduce pressure on drains and sewers and on rivers and flood defences.

"If all the water was removed from that tree, half of what would be left is carbon that the tree has extracted from the atmosphere through its leaves. The tree locks that Carbon inside and releases clean pure oxygen into the air. If at some point in the future that tree becomes a table, a door or a chair, that carbon remains locked in the wood, permanently removed from the atmosphere.”

Wakefield Council has set a target to plant over 3 million trees in the district by 2050.

Trees will play an important role in the regeneration of Castleford’s waterfront. The creation of two new riverside parks will provide spaces for residents and visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of the high street while still being conveniently connected to the town centre.

Greening up our urban spaces keep the high street cool and shady on hot days. Research has shown the shade a tree can provide can offer a reduction in temperature by as much as 10°. This means on a hot day when temperatures can reach up to 30°, standing or sitting in the shade of a tree can reduce this to a more comfortable 20°.

Representatives of The National Coal Mining Museum for England spoke at the Climate Summit and discussed how they propose we use coal mines to help get to Net Zero. Water in flooded mineshafts is heated naturally. The heat from this water could be extracted and added to the heating network to benefit nearby homes and businesses.

The museum is considering a project that would use this principle to heat its own grounds, as well as houses in nearby Overton. It is hoped that the coal mining legacy that contributed to the climate emergency, could one day provide a low carbon heating scheme, reducing the emissions of many households.

Wakefield Council is aiming for the district to be carbon neutral by 2038. Climate grants have helped local community groups decarbonise their energy. West Yorkshire Police has been able to make two of their buildings carbon neutral thanks to grant funding.

Read more about the Climate Summit and find out what other great regeneration projects the Council are working on.

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