Happy New Year – time to reflect and look forward

Posted: 8.01.20

Last year was an unforgettable one in the South Pennines.

It started with a visit from the man charged with reviewing all of England’s protected landscapes, Julian Glover. Brilliant winter sunshine welcomed him as we took him on a tour of our spectacular – and yet uniquely undesignated – area. He sampled artisan burgers in Slaithwaite, met students at Calderdale College working on a vision for the future and sat around a table with the board of Pennine Prospects in Marsden to hear our plans to create a South Pennines Park.

He was mighty impressed and both his interim and final report saluted the work being done locally. He also called for the national parks to work more closely with us.

We will be watching the Government to see how it responds to the Glover report in coming months.

Suffice to say recognition, respect and resources are the three “Rs” we have been pushing hard in recent years and it’s clear we are making progress.

Planning for the future is one thing, but we have also been busy in the here and now. We continue to work with Moors for the Future on the restoration of our precious bogland, left denuded by centuries of pollution. Its role in mitigating climate change as a carbon sink and also alleviating the severity of flooding by holding water for longer is crucial. This is an investment desperately needed. What’s more the work has been boosted by a further grant of £2m from Natural England.

Another facet of our changing climate, wildfires, also made the headlines and we had a major outbreak on Ilkley Moor over Easter weekend. Pennine Prospects acted quickly and we organised a major investigation with the co-operation of Bradford Council to assess damage to known archaeological sites and detect any new ones revealed by burnt peat layers.

Together with these major challenges, there are opportunities. It is worth repeating we live in one of the most distinctive parts of the UK with tremendous assets, including our people, the landscape and its built heritage and a vibrant arts scene.

On which point let’s salute the scores of volunteers who came together to make the Explore Walk and Ride Festival in September such a success. From a butterfly ball at Hardcastle Crags, to a whizz down a hillside on a mountain bike in Keighley, a search for Roman remains on Saddleworth Moor and a ride with ponies on Rossendale Fell, there was literally something for everyone.

2020 is full of promise. Creation of a South Pennines Park remains top of our agenda and we’ll be getting out and about to explain our ideas and enlist support.

Rest assured we remain ardent champions of our wonderful region.

Helen Noble
Chief Executive
Pennine Prospects