Valley plans double blow

AN influential body funded by all five district councils in West Yorkshire has come out against the £62.5m scheme to redevelop Copley valley, Halifax.

West Yorkshire Ecology has submitted a three-page objection letter to Calderdale Council, saying the scheme does not meet requirements to “maintain, and enhance, restore, or add to, biodiversity” of the area.

They say the effect on the River Calder, Rochdale Canal and the neighbouring open spaces means they have no choice but to object to the scheme.

The group argue the River Calder is a major wildlife corridor and the proposal by developer Genr8 does no enough to make up for the inevitable loss of habitat areas on the site.

They say some of the proposals are actually taking a “retrograde step” which could affect birds and mammals.

The report says that felling trees on the south bank of the Rochdale Canal could affect bat habitats.

Coming hard on the heels of their objections, the Government body the Highways Agency has also voiced concerns.

They have made a “holding direction” which asks Genr8 to give them further information about the impact on local roads.

They say the current surveys do not go far enough and include any effect on the M62 motorway.

A spokeswoman said: “The Highways Agency has requested further information about some aspects of the proposed development to allow the Agency to fully understand any possible impact on the road network, in particular the M62.

This request does not constitute a formal objection to the plans.”

The scheme, which would bring 224 new homes and 577 jobs to the area, is due to go before the planning committee in June. The proposal could still go ahead as planned in June, but any decision to grant it, would be subject to Highways Agency issues being resolved.

A spokesperson for Genr8 said: “We are very confident that any outstanding issues can be resolved satisfactorily.”

They said details about the local nature reserve, reduction of shading onto the canal and works on the River are being discussed.

“We will continue to work with all agencies and other interested parties to improve the enhanced environmental and wildlife improvements this development will bring,” said Genr8.

Diane Wade, leader of Copley Environmental Protection group said: “We have been making these representations for years and nobody has understood. It’s great we now have these groups backing us.”