‘Vision of the future’ for Ilkley Moor to go to public consultation

Walkers climb up onto Ilkley Moor past the Cow and Calf rocks.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

Walkers climb up onto Ilkley Moor past the Cow and Calf rocks. Picture Bruce Rollinson

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A VISION for the future of one of Yorkshire’s most iconic open spaces will go to public consultation this summer.

A management plan has been in place for Ilkley Moor, one of Bradford Council’s largest assets, since 2002, providing blanket consent for operations on the site, such as the management of habitats and species, recreational and visitor activity and historic and archeological interests.

Three years ago, Bradford Council’s environment and waste overview and scrutiny committee said the plan should be reviewed, and a new draft plan has been made that will influence management of the moor until 2026.

“The Vision for Ilkley Moor” includes managing it in a way that “conserves and enhances” its unique habitats so that it is resilient to climate change; continuing to provide a home for protected specials, such as upland moorland birds; provide “inspiration, artistically, academically and emotionally” though its landscape; serve as an economic asset to the district and be a place for solitude, leisure and education “for generations to come”.

It includes provision for grouse shooting, which is currently licenced under a sporting deed to Bingley Moor Partnership until 2018. It restricts grouse shooting to eight days per season, and also restricts grouse moor management.

The draft plan does not recommend either continuing or halting grouse shooting on the moor after 2018, but outlines the benefits having a deed in place offers - such as the presence of keepers providing protection against the threat of wildfire, which destroyed a large part of the moor in 2006.

However, it does state that sporting rights on the moor “may be subject to change from time to time”, depending on whether the Council choose to continue to licence them.

Campaigners opposing grouse shooting on the moor welcomed the decision to put the draft plan to public consultation.

Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor spokesperson Luke Steele said: “There is only one way to manage moorland for grouse shooting and that’s through intensively burning away and draining precious habitat, at the cost of our region’s wildlife and natural flood barrier. With some protected species, including hen harriers and peregrine falcons, now completely absent from Ilkley Moor it is clear grouse shooting and conservation cannot work hand-in-hand.”

A Bradford Council spokesperson, said: “This is a wide ranging management plan including visitor and access management, habitats, flood mitigation and archaeology and only a small part of the plan relates to the current arrangements for grouse shooting.”

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