The closure of the A59 at Kex Gill is something that affects many of us adversely, particularly those who need to make regular trips between Harrogate Disctrict and Skipton or beyond. The cost of the scheme proposed at the recent residents’ meeting is staggering at around £33m. All around the country large-scale measures to cope with unprecedented rainfall are a regular occurrence, and yet the reasons behind the high rainfall (climate change) and resulting erosion are rarely discussed. We look at the cure, but not the prevention.
The A59 is closed because of landslide risk due to erosion of the surrounding moor side. As is the case with moorland all over the UK reserved for grouse shooting, this is largely because of run off water caused by burning and blanket bog depletion on the grouse moors. Leeds University studies show flooding and degradation of blanket bog – which should be holding the water to prevent erosion – are higher in burnt catchments. When upland moorland (where 70% of rainwater falls initially) is kept deliberately dry for grouse this can lead to problems with water accumulation down-valley.
The closure of the A59 is harming the regional economy and local quality of life, however grouse shooting is pursued and the ‘benefits’ reaped by only a tiny minority. And yet the rest of us must pay the price of the poorly managed moor ecosystem, both in terms of inconveniences like the Kex Gill closure, but also in an increase in water rates due to the costlier process needed to clean up the water polluted by the burning of upland heather during ‘stewardship’ of the grouse moors, Yours sincerely,