A popular West Yorkshire woodland is set to get extra protection from anti-social behaviour thanks to a four-figure grant from a renewable energy, property and infrastructure firm.
Elspeth Robinson, reserves officer at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, says: “Having access to safe outdoor recreational green space has been shown to be particularly important during the pandemic…”
Owl Wood and Pit Plantation is an eight-hectare nature reserve located between the communities of Kippax, Allerton Bywater and Great Preston that is managed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and well used by local residents for relaxation, exercise and enjoying nature.
In common with many similar green spaces, Owl Wood faces a range of ongoing issues with anti-social behaviour such as fly tipping and unpermitted access by off-road vehicles including quad bikes and motor bikes.
To limit illegal vehicular access to the reserve, create a richer habitat and provide a safer environment for both visitors and wildlife, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is now using a £9,276 grant from the Banks Community Fund, to install 270m of post and rail fencing around Owl Wood.
Access for pedestrians will continue to be provided via three pedestrian A-frames, which will allow pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters to access the nature reserve.
Work on the project is set to be completed by the end of April, with local contractor John Scott Fencing appointed to carry out the required work.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust volunteers spent a day at the beginning of the New Year clearing small trees and bramble to make way for the new fence line.
Elspeth Robinson adds: “This project isn’t something that we’d have been able to take forward in the foreseeable future without the generous support from Banks Community Fund’s and it will bring tangible long-term benefits to this important part of the local environment.”
Owl Wood is one of ten reserves around the area that are managed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with Leeds City Council to provide local people and visitors to the area with easy access to outdoor green space.
It is close to the Lines Way, a popular off-road walking and cycling route that connects many of the surrounding urban areas with local amenity green spaces.
The Trust also runs regular volunteer sessions and practical conservation task days across its nature reserves in this area, to provide residents with great opportunities to meet new people, develop skills and improve their mental health, and it is hoping to encourage more volunteers to get involved with its work.
Elspeth Robinson, reserves officer at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, says: “Having access to safe outdoor recreational green space has been shown to be particularly important during the pandemic and we’ve seen more people visiting our local nature reserves in the past couple of years than ever before.
“Anti-social behaviour is sadly a common problem faced by many reserves like Owl Wood. Fly tipping means that light can’t get to the ground which impacts on what can grow there, while the noise of off-road vehicles, the damage they cause to the ground and tree roots and the physical dangers that they also pose to visitors and especially young children can be very significant.
“Ensuring Owl Wood and Pit Plantation are safe, inviting and enjoyable places to visit which are rich in wildlife will give even more residents the chance to connect with nature, while using pedestrian A-frames for access means people with limited mobility, families with pushchairs and other visitors can enjoy the nature reserve easily.
“Installing new fencing will show the local community that this is a precious place that deserves protecting, while the lack of tyre tracks will make the paths more visible, less susceptible to excessive pools of water and more enjoyable to use.
“This project isn’t something that we’d have been able to take forward in the foreseeable future without the generous support from Banks Community Fund’s and it will bring tangible long-term benefits to this important part of the local environment.”
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group: “We’re very pleased to be supporting a project that will make a real difference to the community’s enjoyment of their local environment.”
Banks Renewables, part of the Banks Group, owns and operates the nearby Hook Moor wind farm, which generated enough renewable energy in the company’s last financial year to meet the annual energy requirements of around 8,200 homes, and by doing so, displaced over 6,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network.
It is also behind the recently-approved Barnsdale Solar Energy Park scheme, which will include solar panels covering an area of around 50 hectares of south-facing land between Kippax and Allerton Bywater and will be able to produce enough energy to meet the annual requirements of up to 12,000 family homes.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s invaluable work protects and enhances the green spaces available across the county for residents and visitors to enjoy.
“We’re very pleased to be supporting a project that will make a real difference to the community’s enjoyment of their local environment.”
Anyone from a community close to a Banks Group project who is interested in applying for funding from the Banks Community Fund should first contact the fund manager via email@example.com or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.