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Council to create more moorland peat to combat climate change

Ilkley Moor flood works in 2021

Bradford Council is to set aside further funding to expand on work it has already done to encourage the peat formation on the district’s moorlands, a key part of its response to the climate emergency.

The council has committed £200,000 to re-wet more areas of moorland by blocking drainage channels and planting sphagnum moss. This creates active blanket bog, which enables peat to form.

Parts of the upper catchments will also be re-profiled to slow the flow of water down the moor. Research shows that peat stores twice as much carbon as forests, so creating more peat is a powerful global weapon against the effects of greenhouse gases.

The funding builds on work already carried out on Ilkley Moor in partnership with the Environment Agency at Backstone Beck. The £180,000 project was focused on reducing flooding below the moor but used many of the same techniques. It will focus on other becks on Ilkley Moor (Hebers Ghyll and Spicey Gill) and other council moorland sites, such as Harden Moor, where similar work has also been done, and Penistone Hill at Haworth, where the council hopes to secure further Nature Recovery funding from Natural England.

The existing scheme at Ilkley Moor included installing flow monitoring equipment and the public are invited to take photos at fixed points and upload them onto the website (posts displaying QR codes linked to the website are situated around the site) so the site can be monitored. So far, the data shows a reduction in peak flows from the moor, reducing flood risk in Ilkley along the route of the beck.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport said: “This funding will help us realise our objectives for moorland management and tackle some of the consequences of the climate emergency.

“We aim to secure multiple benefits from our moorlands – carbon capture, peat restoration, improved biodiversity, better air and water quality, flood reduction and resilience to wildfire. The moors, whilst being fantastic places to visit, can also provide significant benefits to the environment and we are seeking to maximise those over the long term.”

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