MORE than 70 employees from energy firm npower celebrated National Tree Week by planting over a thousand trees to develop the new Low Wood Scout Activity Centre.

The volunteers were joined by environmental charity Trees for Cities, and worked to plant a variety of trees at what used to be Riddlesden Golf Club.

The land, owned by Bradford Council and managed by Keighley Scouting Association, is currently being developed to offer open spaces for camping, trails and activities such as archery.

The new trees are designed to complement existing tree cover, allowing for views across the Aire Valley and improved public access.

Over the next year, npower and Trees for Cities will work with the Scouting Association, Bradford Council and Forest of Bradford project to plant 20,000 trees across the large, sloping site.

Trees planted so far include hazel, white willow, and fruit trees such as plum and apple.

Leading the volunteering team, Laura McNamee, head of customer retention at npower, said: “I’m incredibly proud that we were able celebrate National Tree Week by helping restore such a stunning location for public use once again.

“Earlier this year our company celebrated 70 years of our Yorkshire heritage, so it’s fitting that we have our 70 hard-working volunteers giving back to the community.

“We’re helping to plant a variety of trees in many different cities across the UK so residents of urban areas have the opportunity to reap their benefits.

“Together with Trees for Cities, we plant a tree for every customer who signs up to our Go Green tariff and have planted over 100,000 trees throughout the UK this year.”

Pete Compton, business analyst at the firm’s Leeds office, added: “I grew up in the countryside and used to spend hours climbing trees and making dens, so I was really excited to plant some new trees in the local area, allowing people to make the same memories I did.

“The Scouts will really benefit too – I’m a cub leader and I know how much of a difference it can make when you’re camping and can send children into the woods to have fun.”

David Elliott, chief executive of Trees for Cities said: “We’re excited to work with npower on this joint partnership project to make the Keighley Scout’s ambitions for the former golf course a reality.

“The trees planted will provide new green space for local communities to enjoy, making Keighley a greener, healthier place to live.

“This project forms part of our commitment to growing the White Rose Forest and contributing to the ambitions of the Northern Forest.”

The intention is to plant trees on 10 of the 28 hectares occupied by the new activity centre

This land is within a priority flood management target area. It means it has been identified by the Government and Environment Agency as being of high importance for extra trees to reduce the frequency and intensity of flooding in the Aire Valley.

The public are invited to get involved with additional planting days on this land until the end of March next year.

Shaun O’Hare, landscape architect from Forest of Bradford, said: “Low Wood Scout Activity Centre woodland is one of the largest new woodlands planted in the region in recent times.

“It sits within and enhances a larger complex of public and private broad leaf woodland within the Aire Valley.

“The next five to 10 years will still see significant activity as the growing woodland impacts on the landscape.

“There will be a multi-agency effort to provide aftercare and management, balancing recreation use with conserving flora and fauna.

“The 10 hectares of new broad leaf woodland will contribute to helping people and wildlife adapt to the effects of climate change, providing carbon storage, improving of air and water quality and mitigating flood risk.

“The site offers opportunity for natural flood management work such as leaky dams, which slow down surges of water and help reduce the risk of flooding. This is particularly relevant to the Aire Valley and the protection of homes and business.

“Planting in areas of the site is a challenge. The land has been managed as a golf course for decades, with machines and golfers consolidating the soils.

“Compacted soils reduce the amount of oxygen in the earth, reducing the ability of tree roots to establish. The teams of people planting are attempting to alleviate the ground conditions to give trees the best chance of success.”

Ian Butterfield, ecologist for Forest of Bradford, said: “The woodland is made up of four distinct mixes of native trees and shrubs, those species which colonised our land after the first ice age.

“They include alders, birch, hawthorn, lime and rowan, which is a range of species ideal for the varying ground conditions found throughout the site.

“There will be numerous opportunities for organised groups and individuals to play a part in establishing the woodland through open and dedicated planting days supervised by Forest of Bradford Project.”