There are fears for wildlife and habitat on Ilkley Moor as councillors vote not to renew the shooting licence, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for any future management.
Bradford Council’s Labour Group has refused to renew the grouse shooting lease on Ilkley Moor in a move shooting groups claimed was made to appease the animal rights lobby.
Bradford Labour has majority on the council and a decision to renew the lease rested in its hands. The lease had been held by the Bingley Moor Partnership since 2008 and a renewal would have secured shooting until 2023.
The decision follows extensive campaigning by the anti-shooting Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor, which sought to end the moor’s status as the last remaining council-owned moor on which grouse shooting takes place.
Luke Steele, spokesman for the group, claimed the ban would help to reverse wildlife decline and habitat degradation, but those who managed the moor for the past decade disagree.
Edward Bromet, chairman of the Bingley Moor Partnership, which won the 2015 Purdey gold award for improving biodiversity on the moor, said: “We do not believe the decision has been made in the best interests of the bird life and vegetation on Ilkley Moor, in which we have invested so much in order to recover it for the benefit of all the community.
“This can now be expected to fall into decline, as it did when the last moorland management lease ended in 1997. If Bradford Council wishes to maintain the current high standard of management, it must now look to taxpayers to fund it,” added Mr Bromet.
Burden on taxpayers
Adrian Blackmore, director of shooting at the Countryside Alliance, agreed: “The taxpayers of Bradford need to ask their councillors why they will now be paying tens of thousands of pounds to undertake work currently paid for by private investment. They need to ask why the views of wealthy BBC presenters like Chris Packham and animal rights activists from across the country have been prioritised over local wildlife and local people.
“The Alliance will now be calling on the council not only to maintain the levels of funding that have to date been put into Ilkley Moor by the Bingley Moor Partnership, but also to monitor the levels of wildlife following this change in management.”
“Devastating” for biodiversity
Gareth Dockerty, regional officer for BASC north, commented: “It is devastating for the fragile biodiversity of the moor that councillors have had their head turned by extremists who know so little of grouse moor management.
“The decision to end grouse shooting on the moor will be a tragedy for conservation. Grouse moors support a vast range of wildlife and this is absolutely down to the efforts of keepers and farmers. Curlew and the full range of upland waders thrive on managed moorland.”