Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sheffield Moors Partnership

"The ‘Sheffield Moors’ is a collective name for a group of connected and adjoining upland, and predominantly moorland sites that are all in public or charitable ownership. Collectively, they provide an amazing and very accessible landscape for people and wildlife across some 56 square kilometres (21 square miles) of the Peak District National Park" [1]

The Sheffield Moors Partnership comprises 34 stakeholder organisations including the main agencies who manage the area at the moment, namely:Peak District National Park Authority, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the National Trust (who jointly make up the Eastern Moors Partnership), Sheffield City Council, Natural England and The Wildlife Trust (Sheffield and Rotherham) along with 'user groups' including the British Mountaineering Council, Ramblers Association, Ride Sheffield (who represent the local mountain bikers) and Dark Peak Fell Runners. There are many more.

The Partnership has published a consultation draft masterplan covering the next 15 years from 2013-28.  It's a weighty, well-written, thought-provoking and exciting document and essential reading if you live in or make use of the recreational facilities of the area.

Burbage valley in Winter

You can download a copy from their website at http://www.sheffieldmoors.co.uk/ along with maps and other supplementary documents.  (I had a few problems downloading some of the maps but got them eventually).

Some of the highlights of the document include 15 new bridleways, which will neatly link up many of the existing ones.  This is  essentially 'up-rating' existing wide and sustainable footpaths and should excite the local mountain bikers.  It certainly has my heart racing at the thought of it!  Also, a 'low key, low impact' campsite in Lady Canning Plantation (between Sheffield and Burbage) and various woodland management works including the felling of the coniferous plantations in the Burbage valley and replacing them with a mix of native woodland trees and open moorland.  The latter is likely to have a striking visual impact, which in the short term won't be pretty but in the longer term one would hope would be a vast improvement over three largely impenetrable coniferous areas that are there now.  I have some concerns over how they will extract the timber without causing some fairly serious damage to the moorland - there is no easy way to get it out.  A friend of mine who is a tree surgeon has suggested using horses to drag out the logs.  Apparently it's a tried and tested method, albeit slow and expensive.  There's much more included in the proposals: restoration of heathland, blanket bog and mire, wildflower meadow restoration, increased areas of scattered trees and shrubs to encourage and assist wildlife to move across the landscape and other habitat restoration and management.

The Causeway from Stanage Edge looking towards Dennis Knoll

There is a public consultation period running up to 23 November 2012.  I went to one of the roadshows last week and had a long chat with Rita Whitcome, the project officer.  I will be sending her my thoughts on the proposals in the next week or so.

If the moors around Sheffield are important to you, download and read the masterplan and send Rita some feedback.  She'd love to hear from you.

Whisps of cloud and smoke in the Hope Valley from above Callow Bank, Stanage

[1]    Masterplan 2013-28 Consultation Draft, Sheffield Moors Partnership (2012)

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