The leader of the Green Party is backing efforts to protect an area of woodland from future development. 

Carla Denyer, who is co-leader of the Green Party, visited Darlington to meet local campaigners and take a walk around Skerningham community woodland.

She made visits with the town’s Green councillors Matthew Snedker and Bryony Holroyd to businesses and Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form and Hummersknott School and went to several businesses in town.

The Bristol councillor finished the tour with a walk around Skerningham community woodland, to see the rare Black Poplars that are present in the Hutton Plantation and to see how the area would be affected by proposed development of up to 4,500 homes on a 487-hectare site.

Read more: Darlington Council reveal what will be built on site of former Sports Direct 

She said: “I’ve been on a beautiful walk to see some of the important biodiversity of the wood, with the rare trees and a lot of red listed birds, along with other wildlife. I can see why local people are concerned about development.

“Bryony and Matthew are working very closely with this campaign and working to change those proposals. But ultimately with just two of them there they are limited with what they can do. That’s why we want to substantially increase our numbers at the next election to challenge decisions being made by Labour and Conservatives.”

She added: “Darlington is an area where we think we can make substantial gains in 2023. It’s a reflection of how we are doing as a party. In the last two elections we have taken a substantial number of council seats and it’s been from both the Conservatives and Labour which is interesting.”

Cllr Denyer is touring the North East of England, visiting local parties to celebrate gains made in this May’s elections and urging members to redouble efforts to see more Green Party Councillors elected next year.

Speaking to supporters on Thursday night, she said: “This year we have gained councillors in city centres and suburbs, county towns and country villages. Greens have been winning seats from Conservatives and Labour in equal measure. Which is why Darlington is such an exciting opportunity for success next year.

“Darlington people have already seen the benefits of having two incredibly hard working and dedicated Green councillors and I’m excited to hear your plans to make significant gains next year.”

Read more: Darlington Green leader warns of urban sprawl

Matthew Snedker, leader of the Green group in Darlington, who described Skerningham as the town's 'jewel in the crown', said: “There are so many great green policies that would benefit Darlington.

"Better quality housing, efficient public transport, improving our waste recycling system and using the council’s buying power to make sure that local and regional firms get the best deals.”

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