The Desolation of Newton Bar

February 12, 2022

Work has well and truly started at Newton Bar. 

We received a message via Facebook from a neighbour of the site, who said “…It looks like they’ve already cut far deeper into the existing tree than the plans had suggested.  We know these home many squirrels and potentially two foxes.”

We received another message via WhatsApp from another concerned neighbour who said “I’ve seen the carnage at Newton Bar.  They cut down every SINGLE tree!!! I’m so livid I can’t even tell you… …liars and charlatans every one of them.”

So we obviously had to go and have a look on Saturday afternoon…

First impressions at the St John’s end. Copyright Just Transition Wakefield

Compare the video with this photo of the stand of birch trees a few weeks ago in the autumn

The lost stand of birch trees – copyright Just Transition Wakefield

This is the view up through the site in the autumn…  With the yellow line marking the edge of construction clearly visible. Trees to the left of this line should have been retained.  You can see from the video below the photo that we expected more trees to be retained at the top of the bank!

Autumn view through the site before any work started
View through the site before work copyright Just Transition Wakefield

So after walking around the outside of the site, we arrived at the top where almost everything has been removed.  We were again led to believe that a good proportion of the trees at the top of the site would be retained.  The reality is somewhat different… 

Stuart, who visited the site, and took many more pictures and videos which can be seen here ( was clearly shocked and angered by what he saw.  This is what he said after he had walked back home and had time to reflect. 

I know any tree clearance looks devastating, but this is far worse than we expected, based on what we were told by officers and councillors when we visited the site.  We spent an hour and a half in heavy rain walking the site, so that it could be explained where the road would go, which trees were to be felled and which retained.  We were upset at the time, but we remembered the detail because it mattered.

I cannot put my feelings of anger at the deliberate and systematic destruction, and my sense of betrayal, into words polite enough to print.  Trees that had been highlighted to be retained are now gone.  Not one tree has been relocated.  There was a huge gap in the fence, so I have walked the site to confirm this.  Two of us visited the site at the start of the week and spoke to the Hinko project manager.  It is clear that we were lied to. This is the betrayal. 

What I think I find most galling is that despite all of the publicity, all of the public concern about the destruction of nature during a global ecological emergency, all of the fine words about the climate emergency and the need to reduce traffic – it counts for nothing.  We have to question whether we can trust the council to deliver on its promises, or to hold its contractors to account.

We are lodging a Freedom of Information request to see the plans that Hinko should be working to.  We need to know if they have over-reached and breached their contracted terms, or if we were lied to.

If this happens with a council with respectable environmental credentials, then God help people living in other areas with councils that are not even trying!

Stuart said afterwards that he hoped that the “Desolation of Newton Bar” would be the last monument to 20th century thinking in the Wakefield District.  That the public shaming and outrage would focus minds into connecting policy with practice – starting with the community woodland scheduled for destruction on City Fields at Park Lodge Lane.  He left musing whether we could create an art installation at Newton Bar as a lasting reminder to all who pass through this historical anachronism…

Unless - The Lorax
Unless… copyright Dr Seuss
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  1. Well documented before and after the destruction of the trees, we need to work hard now to hold them accountable for what they have done, so it doesn’t happen again,
    I feel the contractors have done this on purpose,
    and they think they will get away with it, because they never do anything to hold them account

    1. Thanks! We are certainly getting to the crunch point where words have to have meaning so that people can change the way they act.
      There is no time left for empty talk.

  2. I live on Bradford road – the site looks disgusting!

    We were lied to – they said they were moving the trees and keeping the majority – absolute liars.

    I actually have been having sleepless nights thinking what the hell are they going to put there because let's face it – it's way more than a road.

    Liars – cheats and thieves.

    1. Hi Jenny – the number of trees to come down was supposed to be 107. I have not counted stumps, but I took careful notice of what was said and what was physically pointed out to us, and it is clear they have gone beyond that.
      We agree that it is a huge amount of destruction for a roundabout extension, and we are still sceptical about how effective it will be at reducing congestion…

      1. Now that the land behind Paragon Business Park where another 300+ houses are being built has been cleared, this roundabout work will absolutley help to reduce congestion from all the additional vehicles on top of those coming and going from the first phase of the Snowhill development. Also it is going to provide safe pedestrian crossings which are nowehere on that roundabout junction at the moment.

        1. We absolutely agree about the need for pedestrian crossings – the current roundabout is a potential deathtrap. We are not convinced, however, that the 11 sets of traffic lights on the roundabout will allow traffic to flow well enough to either ease congestion or improve flow to reduce air pollution. We also take issue with the design which is clearly to increase traffic between motorway and city, rather than benefit local traffic. All in all, comparing the environmental damage set against questionable traffic benefits led to our position of opposition.
          We had called for not just the cancellation of the scheme, but to use the remaining £6 or £7 million to redesign scheme to put in better pedestrian crossings, and look at Bar Lane rather than the A650 dual carriageway.
          Then there is the issue of the contractors going beyond the plans when destroying the trees on the site…

  3. This is such a sad state of affairs, and the project is just getting started. It’s so disappointing to know that the people who were working to keep this area protected as much as possible have been lied to. I live just up the road at newton hill, and I can’t believe how bare it looks. Every day last week I kept thinking, it doesn’t look like they are digging the trees up to move, just chopping them all down. So much wildlife will be disturbed. Someone needs holding accountable for this. Yet again the plans come out, but then the reality is very different. This happened when they built snowhill.

  4. Destroyed the homes of our animal friends plus those beautiful tree. Profit before morals just like this awful government. Disgusting.

  5. This is devastating.
    A double whammy for the planet and the people of Wakefield:
    More traffic but fewer trees to absorb the carbon and pollutants

  6. After seeing for the first time on Sunday the complete devastation of the Newton Bar area I was shocked and very upset upon the removal of all the beautiful trees.
    I cannot believe how or why Wakefield Council would let this go ahead when they have already said that the district has a Environmental and Biodiversity issue.
    What kind of people would let this happen?
    I for one, certainly won't trust them after this.

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