Bradford Council has rejected calls to hand over Ilkley Moor to a trust, following extensive fires this summer.
The fires, in the last week of July, devastated more than 500 acres of upland heath and led to the Moorland Association’s call to close every access area in England. The council, which owns the moor, had been planning to hand over control of the iconic land, which features in Yorkshire’s unofficial ‘national anthem’ On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘At, to a charity or trust before the fire. The National Trust was one organisation mooted as a possible manager for the land.
Now Bradford Council has decided to sell Silver Wells cottage, a property on the moor, to finance restoration and maintenance of the area. As well as being popular with walkers, climbers and cyclists, the moor is an important nature conservation area and contains numerous archaeological sites.
The moor covers 1,670 acres (676 ha) and came into public ownership when the land was passed in 1893 to Ilkley Board of Health by Marmaduke Middleton as a public pleasure ground. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is home to many species of flora and fauna.
Cow and Calf Rocks, its nearby quarry and Rocky Valley are all venues for gritstone climbing (and at least one instance of slacklining!).
The BBC quotes Bradford Council’s environment executive member Cllr Anne Hawkesworth as saying: “Ilkley Moor is a national treasure and there has understandably been a lot of public concern about the management of it.
“The council has had limited resources to fund restoration and improvements works to the moor and to finance the recovery it needs following the fire.
“I want to see both national and local involvement in the recovery of this iconic site.”