Spending plan to turn Wakefield rubbish tip into ‘must-visit destination’ approved

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Senior councillors have approved plans to turn a rubbish tip in Wakefield into a country park.

A meeting heard that the £275,000 investment will lead to Welbeck Landfill Site becoming a “must-visit destination” for residents.

The funding will pay for the first phase of work to begin at the 200-hectare site near Normanton.

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It will include the creation of circular walking trails, natural woodlands and grasslands, cycling trails and links to existing trails in the area.

Senior councillors have approved plans to turn a rubbish tip in Wakefield into a country park.Senior councillors have approved plans to turn a rubbish tip in Wakefield into a country park.
Senior councillors have approved plans to turn a rubbish tip in Wakefield into a country park.

Areas for viewing wildlife will also be created.

Jack Hemingway, the council’s cabinet member for climate change and environment, said: “This has been a long road for everyone concerned.

“But our commitment to the site’s future as a green space for nature is crystal clear.

“This is about keeping faith with our residents and honouring long-standing commitments.”

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Jack Hemingway, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for climate change and environment, pictured at Welbeck.Jack Hemingway, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for climate change and environment, pictured at Welbeck.
Jack Hemingway, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for climate change and environment, pictured at Welbeck.

The area was a quarry before it became a landfill site in 1998.

A report to councillors said there was “a level of uncertainty” around the timeline for completion of the landfill operations due to a legal challenge by tip operators Welbeck Waste Management Ltd (WWML).

In November, the council’s planning committee rejected the company’s application to continue tipping waste at the site for two extra years.

The decision has gone to appeal and a Planning Inspectorate hearing is expected to take place later this year.

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WWML said it needed more time to fill the remaining capacity at the site due to a shortage of materials going to landfill.

Coun Hemingway said work could start on around one-third of the site area.

He added: “While we all await the outcome of the Planning Inspector’s decision for the rest of the site, what we can do is commence work on what we have already had returned to us.

“We will continue to work with Welbeck Waste Management to ensure they fulfill their part of the whole site restoration.

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“I was up there myself a few weeks ago and in some areas restoration and naturalisation is already well under way, with beautiful areas of woodland and stunning views over the Calder.

“With a little help I believe this site can become a must-visit destination for walking and cycling and provide a 200-hectare green lung for the people of Wakefield, Stanley, Altofts and Normanton.”

Over 600 members of the public engaged in a consultation on the plans.

More work is expected to be carried out over the next 15 years as more sections of the landfill site are restored.

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Future facilities could include building a visitor centre, a café and a cycling hub.

Cabinet member Michael Graham said: “I remember attending a meeting once where people were talking about how long they have been fighting for this and how long they have been trying to get it turned into something better, rather than a smelly eye-sore.

“It’s a fantastic achievement and I put my full support behind it.”