The Eastern Moors Partnership may be asked to take over the management of some popular parts of the Peak District National Park, following recent recommendations.
During summer 2010 the Eastern Moors Partnership, a cooperative venture between the National Trust and RSPB, ran a number of stakeholder workshops to discuss the future management of the Eastern Moors Estate, an area of the Peak District National Park that since late January 2011 they have been leasing from the National Park Authority. These workshops were attended by 145 individuals and resulted in a set of 12 Guiding Management Principles, which the Partnership are now using to develop a draft management plan for the Eastern Moors.
Prior to the public engagement starting, Sheffield City Council (SCC), asked the Eastern Moors Partnership to use this opportunity to also collect views on a future vision for the management of nearby Burbage, Houndkirk & Hathersage Moors. This additional land, which includes the very popular climbing and walking area around the Burbage Valley, is owned by SCC and currently managed on their behalf by Kier Property Asset Management. This company have now tabled a formal recommendation to SCC, to begin negotiations to lease the management of the Burbage, Houndkirk & Hathersage Moors to the NT/RSPB Eastern Moors Partnership.
The area is important both for nature conservation and as an outdoor leisure resource, and receives high numbers of visitors. Any management plan will have to balance public access and the environment. In the area it already runs the Eastern Moors Partnership puts public consultation at the heart of land management, with regular input from stakeholder organisations such as the Ramblers and the BMC. The Eastern Moors Partnership will shortly be hosting a series of Focus Group meetings with representatives from walking, cycling, climbing, horse riding and wildlife groups, with the key aim to create a path network that is better integrated both on site and with access routes into and out of neighbouring areas, and is suitable for a range of user groups.
'We think that the best option for the land in question would be that the Partnership take it over' says Henry Folkard of the BMC. 'All the areas involved are part of the same SSSI, so coherent management is key. The RSPB already run reserves on open access land, such as Dovestones further north in the Peak, and the BMC have no concerns about access here since we have an excellent ongoing dialogue with them as a member of their stakeholder forums. Accomodating conservation and recreation together in upland habitats with iconic landscapes demands expertise and understanding. The RSPB and NT have a good track record in this both locally and nationally.'
Roy Taylor, Peak District Area Manager for the RSPB, is keen to assuage any fears that the organisation is entirely focused on birds at the expense of people.
'I can say categorically that there would be no negative implications for public access. The days when RSPB could be considered a single issue organisation are long gone; we now recognise that good quality visitor access is fundamental to people engaging with nature. We see no conflict between well managed access and wildlife.'
The latest recommendation will be tabled and voted upon at a public meeting of the Sheffield South West Community Assembly on 31st March. The formal vote will follow a presentation from the NT/RSPB Eastern Moors Partnership and a question & answer session. If you would like to hear more about the proposal or raise issues for consideration, then Eastern Moors Partnership staff will be available on the evening for members of the public to talk to.
In the interim Roy Taylor, RSPB Peak Area Manager, will field any queries and can be contacted either at: Roy.email@example.com or 07710 084415
The meeting will be held at 6pm 31st March, at Tapton School, Darwin Lane, Sheffield S10 5RG