Reader’s letter: Rodley Nature Reserve leads fight to protect riverside wildlife corridor

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Concern: Rodley Nature Reserve trustees have expressed concerns over the plans.

Dear sir,-

The saga of the Airedale Mills development continues. This development, which is next to the entrance to Rodley Nature Reserve and adjacent to key areas of the Reserve, has caused significant problems for both the local community and Rodley Cricket Club as well as the Reserve itself.

The Reserve was established in the late 1990’s and has subsequently developed into a nationally recognised nature reserve having won a range of national and local awards for its work in the community, accessibility and habitat development.

For several years the adjacent Airedale Mills site has been identified for housing development, which is now at the final planning stage. 

The proposals include for improved bridge access across the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which has resulted in the closure of the access route into the Reserve, the cricket club and the canal towpath. This improvement was scheduled initially for two to three months but will now be at least nine months.

In addition, and of more importance, the original agreement to retain the existing wildlife corridor along the River Aire by retaining an ecology buffer is now under threat, as reported by WLD earlier this month. 

This buffer, implemented effectively, would allow for the continued undisturbed movement of wildlife along the river and act as a shield for wildlife on the Reserve from disturbance from the development. To be effective this buffer should be both continuous and dense with no human disturbance, it would require secure fencing to guarantee its retention in perpetuity.

Unfortunately the latest planning proposals include for the removal and pruning of the trees in this buffer area, so compromising its effectiveness.  

Presumably this would be for cosmetic reasons as there does not appear to be any ecological reason for felling or pruning these trees.

In addition, the outline planning permission required the developer to provide details of a cat-proof boundary to protect the ground nesting birds and small mammals from predation – no detail appears to have been included by the developer for the design/installation of this.

The Trust, therefore, is now requesting at the detailed planning stage:

  • an adequate and effective ecology buffer be established
  • that no trees or shrubs in this area be removed or pruned
  • the ecology buffer should have substantial fencing to prevent human access to the area
  • an effective cat-proof fencing should be provided to protect the reserve
  • the ecology buffer area is not disturbed or damaged by the construction work.

The Trust ask this solely to protect and encourage wildlife and biodiversity and to help make it available for our community, this seems a small price to pay.

Only if these conditions are met can the interests of wildlife and the nature reserve be protected from potential harm.

  • Jerry Knapp & Rodley Nature Reserve Trust   

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