Unveiling of new Calderdale nature reserve plan for playing fields and green space

Brearley Fields in the Calder Valley
Brearley Fields in the Calder Valley

Plans for a new wetland nature reserve in the Calder Valley will be unveiled at Mytholmroyd Christmas Market

The scheme at Brearley Fields aims to improve biodiversity and the river environment, boost flood attenuation and bring health and wellbeing benefits to people in the adjacent villages of Mytholmroyd and Luddendenfoot.

The area was severely affected by flooding in December 2015 and by many previous events, and the fields are often severely waterlogged for significant periods in the winter months.

Anne Holdsworth, Environmental Project Officer at Calderdale Council, said: “We have worked closely with the local community to develop this scheme to create a more attractive and accessible public greenspace, which we hope will help to restore a positive relationship between the local community and the river.

“By providing improved habitats for local wildlife and complementing the Flood Alleviation Scheme in Mytholmroyd, the project also supports wider efforts to help reduce the extent of climate change and to become more resilient to its impacts.”

The site, which was previously managed by Calder High School as playing fields, has been largely unmaintained since the floods of December 2015 but is currently well used by the local population for recreational activities and dog walking.

The Wetland Nature Reserve will see the creation of new permanent ponds, with associated scrapes and hollows connected to the River Calder which will flood naturally when the river levels rise.

Other elements include reedbeds, native mixed woodland planting, meadow habitats and paths around the site for public access.

These measures are expected to benefit birds, fish and other local wildlife, attract visitors to the area and provide opportunities for environmental education and volunteering.

The drier part of the site will remain as sports pitches, managed by Hebden Bridge Saints Football Club.

The project is a key action in the Flood Action Plan, and is supported by the Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd Town Board, and Royd Regeneration.

Construction is expected to commence in summer 2020 and will be managed by Calderdale Council.

Some of the habitat creation work will be carried out by volunteers, working in partnership with the Council, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and other local voluntary groups.

Those who would like to view the plans can do so at the Mytholmroyd Christmas Market and Lights Switch On at St Michael’s Church Hall and Square from 12.30-6.30pm on Saturday November 16.

The Brearley Fields wetland reserve is part of Calder Greening, a series of projects partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund to improve green spaces, encourage tourism and business growth, and complement the Flood Alleviation Schemes with naturally managed flood risk across the Calder Valley.