Trees Not Traffic

November 22, 2021

Saturday November 20th saw Just Transition Wakefield members and supporting trade unions meet with local residents at the Newton Bar site, soon destined to be devastated to build a new, extra-large, extra-pointless roundabout. Thank you to Wakefield NEU and Leeds/Wakefield Unite Community.

We are calling for the following actions:
1. WYCA and Wakefield Council to cancel the Newton Bar roundabout scheme;
2. WYCA to cover any contractor costs from the £9.5 million project budget, and
3. WYCA to work with the council, the community and experts like SUSTRANS to design bus priority measures and separate pedestrian and cycling provision through the junction and on into the city centre.
4. WYCA to review EVERY road scheme in West Yorkshire against their Carbon Emissions Reduction Pathways study, so that only those that will lead to overall emissions reductions and lead to modal shift from cars to sustainable alternatives get the go ahead.

Stuart from Just Transition Wakefield said “We are in combined climate and ecological emergencies. Part of the solution is to reduce traffic, encouraging people to shift to more sustainable public and active transport, yet here we are at the end of 2021, after COP26, still fighting 20th century battles. We need action and policy to work together to tackle these twin crises. Instead we are still shouting to public bodies to “Mind the gap!”.”

Here are some thoughts by group members and local residents about the scheme.

Yvette – Just Transition Wakefield member
Andrew – Wakefield FoE and local resident
Andy – local resident
Ayub – local resident
Kate & Ruth – Wakefield Green Party

It is clear that local people most affected by this scheme knew little if anything about it. The trees under threat are mature, effective carbon capturing machines and hosts to an established ecosystem. They already soak up pollution from the roads and provide a “Green Welcome” into the city. We have not yet met anyone who thinks this is a good idea.

Expect delays
Tying ribbons to highlight the trees at risk

Stuart finished by saying “This cannot be the last autumn for these trees. We all know that we need to U-turn on some historic policies if we are to give nature and humanity a future. We know that people across the world are already suffering the ravages of climate breakdown. This scheme is the opportunity that our council and the combined authority need to draw a line in the sand and become part of the solution not part of the problem.”

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  1. The cutting down of trees is insignificant compared to the amount of waste material that would be moved to landfill, this would pump millions of Kg of C02 into the atmosphere

    1. You’re adding weight to the argument against!
      I would expect that in 2021 the hardcore would be chipped and re-used, and the soil used for land reclamation, so that nothing has to go to landfill, but of course that depends on the standards and care of the contractors and the oversight by enforcement officers – neither of which is guaranteed.
      We agree with your point that the carbon dioxide released and the embodied carbon of the new construction is significant, as is the emissions from the growing traffic for years after construction. No amount of replanting is going to recapture all of those combined emissions.

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