Environmentally-conscious councillors are taking inspiration from schoolchildren to make Newcastle town centre greener.
The Council has installed a series of demonstrator green walls to railings by Newcastle bus station on busy Barracks Road.
The pilot scheme – part of an ongoing programme to help the Council reach its ambitious goal to become carbon neutral by 2030 – could be introduced in other areas in the future if it’s proven to be successful.
The screens, created using live ivy plants, are designed to act as a natural barrier to traffic pollution while enhancing the appearance of an urban environment.
As well as the aesthetic benefits, studies show that ivy provides multiple health benefits and has a superior ability to trap particulate matter from vehicles and motorcycles. In addition, the evergreen plant provides a welcome habitat for many birds and insects all year round, including bees who are attracted by a late season source of nectar. The dense foliage is also a great noise buffer.
It follows recent work by pupils from Hassell Community Primary School to install a large filter system adjacent to the town centre ring road. The project – created with funding from Staffordshire County Council’s Climate Change Action Fund – is supported by county councillors Simon Tagg, Stephen Sweeney, Graham Hutton, James Salisbury and Ian Wilkes with additional sponsorship from Brampton Recruitment and support from Newcastle South Local Area Partnership.
It will be seen by Heart of England in Bloom judges who tour Newcastle-under-Lyme on Wednesday, 13 July as part of the borough’s campaign in the small city category.
It’s hoped that students from Staffordshire University will help to monitor and evaluate what affect the panels have.
Council Leader Simon Tagg, who is also Cabinet member for environment, infrastructure and climate change for Staffordshire County Council, said: “I’m really pleased to play my part in introducing this pilot scheme in Newcastle town centre and look forward to seeing how it develops. We are keen to try out the green wall idea to see if it makes a real difference to levels of traffic pollution; if data proves this, then we will look to roll them out elsewhere in the borough. Bringing nature into an area, where it can add value, can be a vital step to creating a sustainable future. Like the Council’s ongoing work to plant thousands of new trees in urban spaces across the borough, green walls are known as a simple but effective way to filter the air, generate energy-rich oxygen and create a more sustainable eco-system. Barracks Road is particularly busy, with a high volume of passing traffic and a shopping area, so it’s an ideal place to trial this initiative. We’re hoping to develop the scheme over time to increase the positive effect for wildlife as well as residents, visitors and the wider community. It will be good to show the Heart of England in Bloom judges what we’re doing.”
The screens will be arranged to look like a castle as a nod to Newcastle-under-Lyme’s heritage. (MAIN IMAGE Council Leader Simon Tagg (centre), with Cllr Ian Wilkes and Claire Leigh, Director of Brampton Recruitment.)