Walkers' plea to 'save' Harrogate beauty spot

Members of the public at  the Woodland Trust's 'Save Nidd Gorge protest walk  in Harrogate.
Members of the public at the Woodland Trust's 'Save Nidd Gorge protest walk in Harrogate.

Scores of people joined members of the Woodland Trust in Harrogate at the Nidderdale Greenway in a ‘Save Nidd Gorge’ protest walk at the weekend.

With the deadline approaching fast for North Yorkshire County Council’s controversial traffic congestion consultation, the protesters were addressed at the start of the walk on Saturday by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones and renowned Harrogate nature writer Rob Cowen.

Pupils from Coppice Valley Primary School in Harrogate with their 'Save Nidd Gorge' banner.

Pupils from Coppice Valley Primary School in Harrogate with their 'Save Nidd Gorge' banner.

Both supported the Woodland Trust's case that a possible relief road from Bilton to Forest Lane near Nidd Gorge would not only destroy ancient woodland and the natural environment but also didn't add up to a sustainable solution to traffic problems.

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So there have been more than 10,000 responses to North Yorkshire County Council’s online survey.

Once the July 8 deadline has passed, responses will form the basis of a report to NYCC’s Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee on August 29, and to the Skipton and Ripon ACC on September 6.

North Yorkshire County Council has always been keen to point out that the controversial Bilton to Forest Lane ‘relief road’ idea is just one option in its online survey on attitudes to traffic congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough.

Ultimately, decision will be taken by the NYCC executive at the end of this year.

Rob Cowen, whose award-winning Common Ground book is set in Nidd Gorge, told the walkers who gathered at Nidd Gorge viaduct that a relief road would be "madness."

Mr Cowen said: “The idea of destroying the unique natural and human history of this special

area for a ‘relief road’ which will do the opposite of what is intended is nothing short of madness.

The Woodland Trust is advising residents to vote against a relief road in question 15 of the council’s online survey.

And it has also launched its own online petition to ‘Protect Bilton Beck & Nidd Gorge’.

The campaign by residents groups such as Harrogate and Knaresborough Alliance for Less Traffic (HALT) has also been supported by pupils from many schools in the district who have been making their own 'Save Nidd Gorge' banners.

The latest schools to get involved are Coppice Valley Primary School in Harrogate and Aspin Primary School in Knaresborough.

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