Construction work has now started on the first part of the Sowerby Bridge Copley Valley regeneration scheme, but concerns have been raised by local residents about the removal of a signifcant number of trees in the area.
Photographs taken at the site show dozens of trees have been felled, fuelling concerns about flood risk and irreversible environmental damage.
The scheme is being delivered as a partnership between Calderdale Council and contractors the Buckingham Group.
Mick Coughlan, of the Copley Valley Environment Protection Group, said: “My concerns with this are that trees, besides being pretty, also play a part in managing the water table.
“In times of heavy rain they help to clear any potential floods as they soak up the water - especially important in this case as the development is being built on a floodplain.”
Jenny Shepherd, Green Party PPC for the Calder Valley, said: “Many people in Copley Valley are deeply sceptical about building 149 houses on a contaminated floodplain. For years they have raised questions which Calderdale Council has failed to answer.
My concerns with this are that trees, besides being pretty, also play a part in managing the water table.
“As tree felling and other work starts on the site of the new housing estate, Calderdale Council needs to urgently answer people’s real concerns about the environmental and social impacts of this development. Better late than never.”
Coun David Draycott (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) said there are a few outstanding issues surrounding the project including the provision of car parking and primary school places, but that all of the houses being built are above the floodplain. He added that the trees being felled will be replaced by new trees more suitable for the site.
Ian Gray, director of economy and environment at the council, said: “Visible progress is now showing the significant work that is required for clearance and demolition, earthworks and land remediation, construction of retaining walls, installation of utility services, flood alleviation works and landscaping.
“The contractors are managing the site working with the council, the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water, as well as local residents and allotment holders throughout the development works.”