Bradford Council – moorland mowing caught on film

Moorland managed by Bradford Council has been mown in the middle of the bird nesting season, a Councillor has confirmed. The incident was filmed on Baildon Moor, just 5 miles north of Bradford. Introducing mowers to a moor at a time when many red-listed birds could be nesting is a travesty. Farmers will know what machines like this can do in silage fields, where species as big as a brown hare can be lost forever in its blades.

As ever, the debate between cutting and burning heather isn’t as black and white as detractors of moorland burning might want us to think. Without the foresight of someone filming this, we would never have known it had happened and Bradford Council would never have been alerted to this harmful error. If someone were to burn heather out of season, any of the thousands of people living within walking distance would know and people would act to stop it.

Anyone who understands the wildlife of our moors will be horrified by this, as shown by the outrage the video prompted on social media. We can’t know what damage this might have caused, but there have been reports of many species, from skylarks to golden plover, nesting on the moor.

Sonya Wiggins of Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group is extremely concerned, calling it “truly heart-breaking for our ground-nesting red-listed birds at this time of year” and questions how this could happen on land managed by Bradford Council.

It seems a cruel irony that, when the same council ended grouse shooting on the neighbouring Ilkley Moor, Chris Luffingham of the League Against Cruel Sports claimed he was “pleased to see that Bradford Council accepts the unnecessary suffering and collateral damage to wildlife and the environment that is caused by commercial shooting.” For the curlew on Baildon Moor, it might not be death by a thousand cuts, but just the one.


Bradford Council have asked us to explain that they are now investigating this incident. We are happy to do so.

The GWCT will continue to update this blog as and when we receive any further information.

Please donate today and help us undertake leading research, challenge misinformation and promote what works


Bradford council

at 6:38 on 29/04/2020 by Simon Mahoney

Bradford Council should be prosecuted and heavily fined for disrupting possibly exterminating nesting season on the moor. They should also have to return the moor to its prior condition with a nesting programme in place. Oh hold on isn’t that what the moors workers have been doing for hundreds of years to great effect.


at 14:10 on 28/04/2020 by Curt Gesch

Dear Friends, I'm glad to see that this practice reached the light of day, so to speak. Repeated mowings virtually eliminated wild pheasant populations in farming areas near Vancouver, B.C. A question: What were dogs doing on the moor during nesting season?

Moot cutting

at 10:28 on 28/04/2020 by Gerald Needham

It is as bad as environmental agencies cutting river bank 10 days ago. Shortish grass made shorter I will take pictures if I have opportunity again

The email you have just sent me about Bradford Council mowing in the middle of the nesting season

at 10:18 on 28/04/2020 by William Gascoigne

This can’t have happened by accident! Someone at Bradford Council must have arranged a contractor or their own staff to do this! Typical ignorant, arrogant townies! If a farmer had done this .....‘Natural England’ or whatever idiotic title they have now grandly called themselves would have come down on them like a ton of bricks.... but because it’s some urban based council... they get away with it... the stupidity of it makes you weep! WG

Heather cutting on Baildon Moor

at 7:53 on 28/04/2020 by Christopher Wilson

It is surely not possible that this appalling act of destruction was carried out without the authority and order of someone high up in Bradford Council. And if so how can it be possible for employees of the Council to take this type of action without the required authority. Someone has to take responsibility and accept the consequences of their actions. Christopher Wilson

Make a comment