As we begin the engagement process with Mouchel’s Transport Planners this week, I had a timely reminder of why the NGCA formed at the beginning of the year and of just what is at stake if the NYCC executive and Harrogate Chamber of Trade continue to pursue the Blue or Green route.

On Monday evening, after my daughter and niece had finished a cubs session  in Nidd Gorge, we stayed on afterwards to walk the dog in the glory of the evening sunshine and were treated to an  extended appearance from the  barn owl in Bilton Fields (west).

Whilst I was mooching about inside the copse, checking the progress of some hawthorn shrubs our Grove Academy students had planted last year, the girls  gave excited shouts as the owl passed over their heads.

Following it flying south, we  took up a vantage point on the model aircraft runway  and  sat down to watch for ten minutes as  the owl hunted  above the  young trees in the  Diamond Jubilee Wood  – some  of which our students had also  planted 3 years ago and which now lie in the path of the proposed road (the Green route).

We were all captivated by the spectacle as it surveyed it’s territory from about 20 feet up, patrolling back and  forth and side to side before  fixing on a target  and  diving down suddenly, then re-emerging half a dozen times to have another go. We couldn’t believe our luck!

If this wasn’t enough to confirm what a  special place we have  here (and what a ludicrous place  it would be to build a road), I was then lucky enough to spend time in the company of the wonderful tawny owlet (pictured) on Wednesday morning, during our Land-based Studies lesson.

This time, we had just set up our camp beside the Willow Wood ponds (also under threat from the Green route), when my colleague Brandon looked up into the black poplar tree  above us and spotted the owlet, thirty feet above us, taking it all in and watching over us  for more than an hour.

Luckily, this time, we had a camera and could share the spectacle with the world and particularly those people who say we  should destroy all this in the name of congestion relief and economic growth.

But as we all now know, from the CPRE report, new roads  increase traffic volumes and congestion in the long run and don’t  improve economies either. So please leave Nidd Gorge for the owls.

‘Owls of protest about roads in Nidd Gorge!
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