9 September 2015

A long-term plan to support the future sustainable management of the moorlands on the edge of Sheffield is being considered by the council’s cabinet committee next week.

Burbage, Houndkirk and Hathersage Moors cover 937 hectares (around four square miles) on the western edge of Sheffield, which is currently building upon its reputation as The Outdoor City.

This landscape, which contains eight scheduled monuments and many other archaeological features, also provides some of the most popular areas for outdoor recreation in the Peak District National Park.

It is now proposed that a 25-year lease for the Burbage, Houndkirk and Hathersage Moors is granted to the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), who have come together over the last five years to form the Eastern Moors Partnership, and have been managing the adjacent moorland of Totley Moss and Big Moor from their base at Barbrook Cottage.

The Eastern Moors team of staff and volunteers have the expertise and resources necessary to support the long-term sustainable management of this invaluable landscape, protecting it for generations to come.

Councillor Isobel Bowler, the council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “We are fortunate to have this superb natural landscape on our doorstep. It is entrusted to our care for future generations and it is our responsibility to ensure that it is managed sustainably as well as ensuring it remains a great recreational asset.

“This new lease agreement with the National Trust and RSPB allows these groups to plan the management and bring investment into this sensitive area over a longer time-scale, using their extensive expertise and resources.

“As The Outdoor City, we in Sheffield have a particular love for, and pride in, the stunning landscapes on our doorstep. We therefore take our responsibility as a landowner extremely seriously and want to ensure that these cherished moorlands are run by the very best people for the job.”

This lease will also help deliver the wider objectives of the Sheffield Moors Masterplan that was developed in 2013 to deliver better landscape scale conservation right across these protected moorland areas.

This plan is the work of the bigger Sheffield Moors Partnership, formed in 2010 between the Peak District National Park Authority, the RSPB, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trusts, Natural England, the National Trust and Sheffield City Council.

The area covered by this bigger partnership incorporates 21 square miles of moorland on the western fringe of Sheffield and recognises the benefit to both wildlife and visitors of increased collaborative working in managing the countryside. Sheffield City Council has owned the land at Burbage, Houndkirk and Hathersage Moors since the 1920s and this land now forms a significant part of the Sheffield Moors Partnership area.

For the last five years, it has been let to the National Trust, which manages the land on a temporary basis. However, this short-term tenancy arrangement is not ideal when trying to deliver long-term sustainable land management.

Therefore, a report being considered by the city council’s cabinet committee next Wednesday (17 September) recommends that a long-term lease is agreed with the National Trust and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Under the new lease, it is proposed that the Eastern Moors Partnership will bring significant improvements to the area by accessing grants for biodiversity improvements, conservation work on key habitats and archaeological features, access upgrades and improvements to the visitor experience.

New staff and volunteers would be recruited and stakeholder forums would be developed, to engage user groups and the local community in the delivery of a new management plan.

The new leaseholders would be required to update this management plan every five years, to ensure it is approved by Sheffield City Council, and agreed break points would be written into the contract.

Key areas of the Sheffield Moors Partnership already include:

  • Stanage/ North Lees, owned and managed by the Peak District National Park Authority.
  • Burbage, Houndkirk and Hathersage Moors, owned by and managed by Sheffield City Council.
  • Blacka Moor, owned by the city council and managed by Sheffield Wildlife Trust.
  • Longshaw Estate, owned and managed by the National Trust.
  • Eastern Moors Estate, owned by the Peak District National Park Authority and managed by the National Trust and the RSPB working as the Eastern Moors Partnership.

Ted Talbot, countryside manager for the National Trust in the Peak District, said: “Our natural environment is increasingly under pressure and the National Trust believes we need to meet these challenges both nationally and locally.

“On these ancient and dramatic moorlands above Sheffield we will do this by working in partnership and engaging people to help.

“Wildlife will benefit from the expertise we can bring in conservation work and visitors will benefit from simple things such as footpaths and bridleways that join up and are looked after, as well as guided walks and events.

“Burbage, Houndkirk and Hathersage moors really are special places and we look forward to keeping them that way.”

Rebekah Newman, Stanage/North Lees property manager at the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “The PDNPA welcomes and supports the proposals for management of Burbage, Houndkirk and Hathersage moors and the benefits for wildlife, cultural heritage and people.

“This is a significant step forward for this well-loved area of moorland at the heart of the Sheffield Moors and adjacent to National Park Authority-owned land at Stanage/North Lees and the Eastern Moors.”