FIFTEEN thousand trees have been planted in Keighley to reduce flood risks and mitigate climate change.

The initiative forms part of a natural flood management programme – one of the largest in the UK – for the River Aire catchment area.

A mixture of birch, beech, oak, aspen, rowan, hornbeam, small-leaved lime and wild cherry trees were planted on six hectares of land at Damems Lane and the Guard House allotments.

The flood management programme is being spearheaded by the Environment Agency, in partnership with Leeds City Council.

And the planting was carried out in conjunction with Keighley Town Council.

Fiona Sugden, the Environment Agency’s Leeds natural flood management project manager, said: “The creation of the new woodland areas will have multiple benefits for people and wildlife.

“Not only will they reduce flood risk locally and downstream in Leeds but they will benefit the environment by creating new woodland habitat, boosting biodiversity, mitigating climate change and creating new green spaces for people to enjoy.

“Tree planting provides so many benefits. We’ll continue to work with Keighley Town Council to identify opportunities in the future.”

Town mayor, Councillor Julie Adams, said the town council was delighted to be involved in the project.

She added: “My fellow councillors and I are serious about addressing the issue of climate change.

“We believe that reducing global warming is everyone’s responsibility and that the best way to help local people to make a difference is to set practical examples of good practice and support activities that involve local people in taking action within their own neighbourhoods.

“We have been committed to the creation of cleaner, greener and safer communities since declaring a climate change emergency in July 2019. A key objective of our climate change action plan is to significantly increase the number of trees planted within the Keighley Town Council parish and create more wildlife habitats and conservation areas, whilst significantly reducing the risk of flooding.

“We are therefore delighted to have teamed-up with the Environment Agency to create a fantastic lasting and inspirational resource for future generations.”

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate, said: “We have taken a catchment-wide approach to flood risk management.

“Planting trees in Keighley will not only bring environmental benefits locally but it will also make a big difference further downstream in Leeds, as trees help to slow and store the flow of heavy rainfall and flood waters. This is critical if we are to build our resilience to climate change and reduce flooding.”