£150 million Annual Economic Benefit
Boosting economic activity
On 4th October, Jonathan Taylor, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, joined West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair Cllr Kim Groves and Chris Hoesli, Calderdale Council’s West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund Programme Manager, to see the installation of the new living wall at Salterhebble Hill.
Calderdale Council and the Combined Authority’s ambitious scheme to tackle congestion along the A629 includes widening Salterhebble Hill to four lanes. Over 5,000 tonnes of soil and rubble were removed to make room for the additional lanes and over 500 steel nails, which if placed end to end would stretch 3km, have been screwed into the rock to secure the remaining hillside.
Absorbing carbon & nitrogen dioxide
The new living wall will be a vertical garden that will improve local air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. It will also deliver biodiversity benefits for the area and enhance the surroundings. It will be underpinned by 5,500 growing bags of which over 3,000 have been installed so far.
The next steps for the living wall are to complete the placement of the growing bags, which contain soil removed during the widening excavation, and nutrients, and then to spray the wall with hydroseed. By Spring 2019 we expect to see the new living wall starting to flourish.
As well as widening the highway and building a living wall, the A629 Salterhebble to Shaw Hill project includes new traffic light technology, junction remodelling and improved active travel facilities, to deliver benefits and safer journeys for public transport users, pedestrians and cyclists.
The six-phase A629 scheme will help reduce congestion, improve journey times, boost public transport use and improve cycling and walking conditions along this key route between the towns of Halifax, in Calderdale, and Huddersfield, in Kirklees. In Calderdale, the scheme will also deliver improvements in Halifax town centre, including bus and rail interchange opportunities, an improved bus station, new bus routing and improved quality public areas.
The scheme is being supported by £120m investment from the Combined Authority’s £1 billion West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund.
In May a £100 million flexible facility over five years to fund specific eligible Transport Fund schemes was approved and Jonathan Taylor who is Vice President of the Bank, which over the last decade has provided £7.8 billion for cycle, bus, rail, maritime and air transport investment in the UK, visited the Salterhebble site.
Supporting inclusive growth and & new jobs
Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: “Through our West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund we have already spent over £90 million on schemes like the A629 project, designed to speed up journeys by reducing congestion which in turn supports inclusive growth and the creation of new jobs across the Leeds City Region.
“Improving air quality is a key aim of the Fund and this planting at Salterhebble Hill, will achieve that by absorbing carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide along this stretch of the route.”
Cllr Barry Collins, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “We’re the first council in the North to introduce such an innovative living wall to our roads. It will encourage clean air and will look brilliant!
"Our overall work at Salterhebble is a key part of the Council’s Next Chapter programme, which will see major projects delivering regeneration and economic growth throughout Calderdale and beyond.”
Cutting-edge transport projects
Jonathan Taylor, Vice President of the European Investment Bank said: “New investment in sustainable local transport is crucial to reduce journey times, cut carbon emissions and benefit local communities. The European Investment Bank backs cutting-edge transport projects around the world and we are pleased to provide £100 million to improve and expand transport links across West Yorkshire in the coming years.
“The Salterhebble living wall will not only tackle a bottleneck in Calderdale, but also improve local air quality and encourage biodiversity. This impressive scheme is a credit to West Yorkshire and provides a model for sustainable urban investment in forward thinking cities elsewhere.”
The European Investment Bank is Europe’s long-term lending institution owned directly by the 28 EU member states. In recent years, the EIB has financed crucial water, transport, energy, education and social housing investment across Yorkshire. Over the last decade the EIB has provided GBP 7.8 billion for cycle, bus, rail, maritime and air transport investment in the UK.