A mass protest by Harrogate dog walkers has taken place in protest at possible plans for a bypass at one of the town's most important wildlife areas.
The unusual protest was one of two launch events by the new Nidd Gorge Community Action last weekend to raise awareness and funds for their Save the Nidd gorge and Greenway campaign.
Hundreds of people attended an open day on the Saturday and a dog walk down the Greenway on the Sunday.
Their contributions raised over £600 for campaign funds and over 500 petition signatures were collected to add to the names of hundreds of local supporters already registered on mailing lists.
The volunteer action group has been set up by local residents in response to the potential threat of two bypass routes being proposed between Harrogate and the Nidd Gorge, an area described by award-winning nature author Rob Cowen as “one of the richest wildlife areas in the region.”
. These could potentially compromise the recently built and massively popular Nidderdale Greenway cycle, walking and riding route.
A spokesman said: “The group is in its infancy but we’ve already been overwhelmed by the positive responses, help and support we’ve received. We completely understand that traffic can be a real problem in Harrogate but we feel that there must be a better solution than compromising such a beautiful area of countryside.
“This weekend shows that people are extremely passionate about protecting the gorge and greenway too, whether it’s the hundreds of dog walkers that turned up on Sunday, cyclists, runners and horse riders and others using it as a traffic free link to Ripley and beyond, nature lovers watching the deer, owls, bats, otters and other rare animals or those who just use the quiet space to relax and unwind.”
The open day included an exhibition of poetry, art and other work by pupils from Bilton Grange, Grove Road Academy and Richard Taylor schools on the theme of protecting the area.
The group plans to host similar events in the future, reaching out to the cycling, running, walking and horse riding communities.
They’re also holding their first AGM on February 21 at 7pm at Bilton Community Centre.