Ancient woodland surrounding Robin Hood's grave to make way for multi-million pound road scheme

The reputed grave of Robin Hood
The reputed grave of Robin Hood

Ancient woodland shrouding the reputed grave of Robin Hood is at risk of being felled as part of a multi-million pound road scheme.

Now council chiefs are being urged to mitigate the potential damage expected to be caused by the creation of the planned £69.2m A62/A644 (Wakefield Road) Link Road.

The route of the road as proposed will involve cutting into woodland bordering the A644 between Cooper Bridge and junction 25 of the M62 at Brighouse.

The call comes as Kirklees Council announces a wide-ranging new policy to manage trees and woodland across the borough – including planting hundreds of thousands of new trees.

The authority aims to increase tree cover and has pledged to retain trees “wherever possible”.

But it has been urged to enshrine trees in its planning agreements with builders, ensuring that protecting existing trees and planting new ones is a condition of any development.

Richard Stow, representing the Kirklees Climate Emergency Group, recommended that the planting programme be “fast-tracked”.

He and fellow campaigner Heather Peacock also called for a moratorium on the cutting down of street trees and for Kirklees not “to make the same mistake” as in Sheffield , where the council cut down 5,500 trees and replaced them with saplings.

And Clr Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield), urged the council to lessen any possible future impact on woodland within the Kirklees Estate, which is actually in Calderdale, by planning ahead.

He said: “If you are going to build a new road then you should be looking at mitigation and planning now.”

He described a lack of liaison between Kirklees, Calderdale and West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which will fund the new road and the “significant” widening it would require, as “a disconnect”.

“It’s one of the biggest schemes that Kirklees is project managing and it’s running contrary to its tree-planting ambitions as well as other policies.

“There should have been an environmental impact assessment when they planned it. Cabinet are ignoring that.”

The Kirklees Estate includes a stone folly, built in the 18th century, that is said to mark the reputed final resting place of medieval outlaw Robin Hood.

In a report to the Economy and Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Panel Rob Dalby, the council’s Greenspace Operations Manager, said Kirklees currently had 2.5m trees in the borough.Woodland covers more than 15,000 acres (6,200 hectares) – or 15.2% – of Kirklees’ land area. Of that approximately 10% is council-owned.

The council is committed to increasing its tree cover by 30%, and planting between 170,000 and 257,000 trees on up to 444 acres of its land, as part of its contribution to the White Rose Forest programme.

It will hire two new members of staff as part of the project. The tree-planting will be grant-funded.

Council Leader Clr Shabir Pandor has also expressed support for a nothern forest, which he described as “the lungs of the north.

“It’s urgently needed for this and future generations.