A famous writer has been talking to the Harrogate Advertiser about why he is taking part in this morning's ‘Save Nidd Gorge’ protest walk as the deadline looms in the county council’s controversial traffic congestion consultation.
Organised by The Woodland Trust, the walk is expected to be attended by local Nidd Gorge campaign groups, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones and renowned Harrogate nature writer Rob Cowen whose award-winning Common Ground book was set in Nidd Gorge.
Rob Cowen said: "I'll be at the march on Saturday as I believe the idea of destroying the unique natural and human history of this special area for a 'relief road' that will do the opposite of what is intended is nothing short of madness.
"A madness that will be judged in the very near-future by the children of this town as an act of folly and short-sightedness beyond reason; a folly representative of a mindset that is shifting and disappearing in the face of new and unequivocal environmental and lifestyle imperatives.
"The Nidd Gorge and Bilton Fields areas are an essential place for residents and visitors. And they will not be given up without a fight.
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"No amount of cynical gridlocking and propaganda postering of our roads during the NYCC's consultation period will convince us otherwise, or lessen our resolve.
"I've lost track of the many hundreds of emails and letters I've received from people all over the world who've read Common Ground and sought out the area that inspired it. All left enriched and enchanted through time spent amid the glorious, non-human, living world we share the planet with."
"The raft of green and sustainable initiatives on the table could revolutionise Harrogate's traffic issues while benefiting its population at the same time. The NYCC has a decision to make. A core decision. Do they want to be on the right side of history or not?
"Aldo Leopold wrote: “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
"I can think of no place that embodies the truth of this as perfectly as the Nidd Gorge and Bilton Fields.
"This place is special in so many ways. Its rich human history is almost unique in the region; it was carved out in the last Ice Age, a place of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, part of the Royal Hunting Forest of Knaresborough and backdrop to the armies of the Civil War.
"It has been a site of common ground, of field, flax mill, bell pit mine and cottage industry. Later the mainline railway ran through here, leaving its own imprint and monolithic relics.
"It is a prism through which we might measure human history on this island. We wouldn't consider tearing down the Royal Baths, the Stray, Harrogate's many old and fascinating hotels - yet the Nidd Gorge is deeper in terms of a record of our history in this place than any of these.
"Today, it stands as one of the most remarkable survival stories I've ever heard. Its recovery from near natural ruin has been incredible.
"It is alive with biodiversity and complex ecosystems found practically nowhere else around Harrogate and Knaresborough, as a new forthcoming biodiversity report attests.
"Its species lists give hope to the heart at a time when the natural world is in steep decline and crisis.
"The idea that otters would return to its waters, that there would be hares, water voles, deer, badgers, rare bats and birds, plants, grasses, flowers, insects, butterflies and moths thriving in this habitat, in the shadow of town, is a breathtaking reminder of the potential we have to live in community with our natural spaces, and not to see them as commodities to be exploited. "
How to join 'Save Nidd Gorge' walk
This morning's protest walk will start from Nidd Gorge viaduct at 11am.
People joining it from Ripley are advised to meet at 10am at Ripley Car Park from where they will walk as a group along the Nidderdale Greenway.
Deer spotted this week in Nidd Gorge!
A reader was walking with wife when he spotted a deer at Nidd Gorge from Kingsley/Bogs Lane, while walking their dog Elsa in a spot is just five minutes walk from where we live.
A vet who employs 11 people at his practice and who has lived in Harrogate for 15 years with his two children born in Harrogate, Fernando Cordeiro said: "The green belt of Harrogate is full of wild life and in my opinion a relief road and excessive house building would disrupt it.