BRADFORD Council’s Labour Group has voted to not renew grouse shooting rights for Ilkley Moor.
The decision was taken at City Hall on Monday evening and is understood to have been supported by an ‘overwhelming majority’ of those councillors who voted.
Bradford Labour is the largest party on the Council and ending grouse shooting is also backed by Bradford Liberal Democrats, Bradford Green Party and the majority of Independent councillors.
llkley Moor is the last remaining council-owned moor on which grouse shooting and all its associated management continues, and the lease could only be renewed following a vote of the Labour Group of Bradford Council. The shooting lease had been held by the Bingley Moor Partnership (BMP) since 2008.
Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: "The lease for the Bingley Partnership to grant shooting rights on Ilkley Moor expires in April 2018 and last night Bradford Labour Group were not supportive of its renewal.
“Our new Ilkley Moor Management Plan sets out our approach to management of the moor regardless of whether or not grouse shooting takes place on the moor. Our focus is now on implementing the objectives of the plan to manage the heathland, increase tree coverage in appropriate areas, restore peat and blanket bog and reduce flood risk for the surrounding areas.
“The Bingley Partnership still has shooting rights for the land on Rombald's Moor that Bradford Council does not own. We look forward to a positive working relationship with them for the future and thank them for their management input during the current agreement.”
Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor (BBIM), which has lobbied Bradford Council to end grouse shooting on the moor since its formation in May 2014, has strongly welcomed the decision. 
Luke Steele, Spokesperson for BBIM, said: “Bradford Council’s Labour Group decision to not renew grouse shooting rights for Ilkley Moor is to be commended in the highest terms. It reflects the urgent need to reverse wildlife decline, habitat degradation and public dismay which has overshadowed this treasured moorland since grouse shooting was introduced in 2008.
“We thank all of those who have relentlessly pursued an end to grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor - the strong cross-party representation of Parish and District Councillors, regional MPs including John Grogan, Judith Cummins, Naz Shah and Alex Sobel, visitors to the moor and conservation groups. 
"This is as much a victory for them as it is for the precious wildlife and habitat. Our efforts will now turn to reversing the terrible legacy of grouse shooting on the moor in pursuit of a first-class asset for the region, which promotes wildlife biodiversity, education, leisure and the local economy.”
However, the decision has deeply disappointed The Countryside Alliance who warn that the sustainable management of Ilkley will now come to an end, and is warning that this shows the dangers of coordinated online animal rights campaigning that is at odds with the needs of local communities. 
Adrian Blackmore, Director of Shooting at the Countryside Alliance, said: “The taxpayers of Bradford need to ask their councillors why they will now be paying tens of thousands of pounds to undertake work currently paid for by private investment. 
"They need to ask why the views of wealthy BBC presenters like Chris Packham and animal rights activists from across the country have been prioritised over local wildlife and local people.
“The Alliance will now be calling on the Council not only to maintain the levels of funding that have to date been put into Ilkley Moor by BMP, but also to monitor the levels of wildlife following this change in management. We know from studies undertaken at Langholm and the Berwyn Hills that the end of grouse shooting leads to calamitous wildlife decline as predator control and habitat management is withdrawn, and Bradford’s councillors need to be held to account for this decision.”
Ed Bromet, from the BMP, said: “Everyone involved in the Partnership, including our employees, is very disappointed that BMDC have voted against the continuation of 10 years of productive management of Ilkley Moor. We do not believe the decision has been made in the best interests of the bird life and vegetation on Ilkley Moor, in which we have invested so much in order to recover it for the benefit of all the community. This can now be expected to fall into decline, as it did when the last moorland management lease ended in 1997. 
"If BMDC wish to maintain the current high standard of management it must now look to taxpayers to fund it, which will be a challenge given they are already under such financial pressure that they have had to cut back on basic services for the elderly and disabled. This decision is a major setback for an excellent example of successful conservation amongst the pressures of an increasingly suburban area.”
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) warned that the decision would be calamitous for conservation in the area.
Gareth Dockerty, regional officer for BASC north, said: "The scientific evidence shows that the management of sensitive moorlands for grouse shooting has clear economic, social and environmental benefits.
"Heather moorland is rarer than rainforest and under good management for grouse shooting, other threatened birds thrive and biodiversity improves. Why would you want to destroy such a benefit to the environment?
"A decision to end grouse shooting on the moor will be a tragedy for conservation. Grouse moors support a vast range of wildlife and this is absolutely down to the efforts of gamekeepers and farmers. Curlews and the full range of upland waders thrive on managed moorland."
After hearing the decision the Bradford Conservative Group put out a Tweet saying: "Deeply concerning that Bradford Council might be treating a vote at a private Labour Group meeting as a Council decision."
A spokesperson for Bradford Council's Labour Group said the actual decision to allow the lease to expire without renewal will be taken under delegated powers by the Strategic Director in consultation with the Portfolio Holder.
Bradford Council had been the last local authority in the UK to allow grouse shooting to take place on public moorland. Others, including the Peak District National Park Authority and Sheffield Council, already prohibit the practice on their upland estates, having previously allowed it, and now maintain the land using other methods.