Carr Head, Pecket Well, Hebden Bridge – woodland management

In the hills above Hebden Bridge sits the small hilltop village of Pecket Well which is around 1000 ft above sea level.  Carr Head is a small area of woodland just off the Keighley Road (A6033) which was planted around 20 years ago.  The site occupies a legacy landfill which was “gifted” to Wadsworth Parish Council in 1974 from the neighbouring former Heptonroyd Parish Council having been used for household refuse disposal but also with some asbestos waste tipped there from a local factory.

In the late 1990’s some land slippage took place uprooting trees which brought asbestos to the surface, this resulted in a project to stabilise and cap the site in 2000.

The site was then covered in topsoil and planted with a mixture of birch, hawthorn, holly, rowan, oak, etc., this was managed and paid for by Calderdale MBC and the site then handed back to Wadsworth Parish Council, without it seems an ongoing management plan.  

The trees are planted on a very close rectangular spacing, and they are now coming up 21 years old and no tree management has taken place since they were planted, the plastic guards have not been removed, some of the trees are in excess of 5 or 6 metres tall and others are stunted and small.  The original intention was that trees would be kept low lying to reduce their tendency to topple in high winds.  The site now requires substantial tree management including removal of tree guards coppicing and some thinning in order for a low lying woodland to thrive and to protect the local community from further land slippage and potential asbestos exposure.  

When the tree management works are completed, the site should remain stable and will be an asset to the community providing a woodland area, accessed via a dedicated path that can be enjoyed by local families and residents. The thinning of the trees will also increase biodiversity, letting in light which will encourage the establishment of understorey and a subsequent increase in flora and fauna.  The woodland is next to the local play area and so will also increase the possibilities for natural play and exercise.

Trees and woodland can have a significant impact on flood risk, surface water run-off and pollution.  Carefully planned and managed tree planting will slow water run-off (and reduce downstream flooding), reduce land and soil erosion, help to moderate stream turbidity and aid flood risk management.

Wadsworth Parish Council acknowledges that further maintenance works will need to be carried out on the site periodically and therefore plans to add this as a budget line in the 2022 budget and beyond, in order to build up an ear marked reserve fund for future maintenance of the site.  

Wadsworth Parish Council has secured a Grant of £5000 from the Community Foundation for Calderdale to manage this woodland to ensure its future viability and longevity for future generations to enjoy.  There is now a plan in place to ensure the ground remains stable and does not expose the asbestos below it.

Stuart Bradshaw, Wadsworth Parish Councilor and Trustee at Slow The Flow identified the issues at Carr Head and has been instrumental in securing the funds to manage this small 4 acre woodland.  He said,

“There is currently a big push for planting trees nationwide but you simply cannot plant trees and woodlands without having a plan to manage them effectively.  This beautiful woodland needs coppicing and thinning to ensure that the remaining trees can thrive and do their intended job in stabilising the hillside and reducing flood risk below this site.  There are plenty of examples of woodlands around the UK like this that have been left without a management plan and many of these will fail if this is not rectified”.

You can read more about How Trees Mitigate Flood Risk and the important role they play.