With the help of local riders and businesses, Ride Sheffield have raised all the money required to build a red graded trail in Redmires plantation in the Peak District. Enormous effort has gone into satisfying the various demands placed on us by the Peak District National Park and other user groups. The first attempt at gaining planning permission has, however, been placed on hold. Here’s the story….
The Radmires saga continues. It’s like some kind of Nordic epic, a battle against a many tentacled opponent who comes at our dashing bearded hero with an endless variety of tests, pushing him to the limit.
However, the many tentacles are entirely understandable because those who are closely examining our proposal are heavily invested in protecting a vital ecosystem. The landscape around Redmires is of international importance. The moors adjacent to the byway are a Special Area of Conservation, one of the highest environmental designations going. Furthermore, the commercial plantation in which we’d like to build is no longer the wildlife desert it once was having been colonised by nightjars, an Amber-listed bird that is one of many endangered species in the UK.
The track is also going to exist within one of the most popular routes out of Sheffield into the Peak District, a busy honey-pot that can, on occasion, look like an ant-hill poked with a stick.
It’s therefore no surprise that the planning application recently submitted on behalf of Ride Sheffield by Sheffield City Council (SCC) has come under forensic examination. The detail in the application is astonishing, from the exact dimensions and angles of berms and jumps to a detailed plan of how we will cope during the nightjar nesting season. We thought it was safe to say that we’d left no stone unturned.
However, the National Park are under considerable pressure. While Lady Canning’s trails are on the fringe of the Peak District, this trail is in its very heart. Any decision will come under careful scrutiny from numerous interested parties, the Ramblers, Friends of the Peak District, Sheffield Wildlife Trust and others. Many of those organisations are good friends of ours and, while they have highlighted possible problems, they have also been broadly supportive.
Equally, we have a duty, as a mountain bike group who try to do the right thing, to work to the highest standards. Our efforts will also come under close scrutiny. This is an acid test of the mountain bike fraternity – are we responsible members of the outdoor community, prepared to go to great lengths to fit into a vital ecosystem without damaging it?
Which brings me to the crux of the matter. While Sheffield City Council resubmit the planning application with even greater detail, it’s down to us to make their job as easy as possible. Be careful where and when you ride. Avoid contentious trails, particularly in busy periods, restrict group size to six, Be Nice, Say Hi and understand that we are trying to win over a host of user groups who can, when the time comes, object to this application.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of this. We are moving into unknown territory by building a trail within a national park. As usual, Ride Sheffield are trail-blazers and it’s our duty to do the best job we can in order to enhance mountain biking’s reputation country-wide. If we do this correctly and the National Park Planning Authority treats us in an even-handed fashion, it’ll be a brilliant precedent for trail-building elsewhere. Do the right thing.