You may be aware, if you venture out down Bilton way, along the old railway line from Bilton Lane towards the River Nidd, that you come across three iron sculptures, standing beside the track.
The sculptures celebrate the opening of the extraordinarily successful Nidderdale Greenway: The ‘sustainable’ transport route that accomodates hordes of walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders in this vital recreation area and provides a green, traffic-free corridor, from Harrogate into Nidderdale and beyond, for genuinely sustainable transport. You may be surprised to learn that doesn’t include cars.
The scupture features images of three people: Malcolm Margolis; Keith Wilkinson; and A Child of the Future.
Malcolm and Keith were rightly chosen as people worthy of celebrating, because of their tireless work (almost 50 years’ work in Keith’s case), that has provided the priceless environment we see and love today.
The third, smaller figure is a representation of all children of the future, who now have a space to breathe clean air, walk the dog, learn to ride a bike, discover nature and escape the confines of the increasingly material, urban lives that we have become accustomed to and blinkered by.
Since the opening of the Nidderdale Greenway a few short years ago, the number of people enjoying this area has increased tenfold.
Imagine not more than 100 yards from the Child of the Future (maybe even running right over the top of her) a road: a wide, gleaming, tarmaced carriageway, with street lamps and big green road signs, running through these fields to busy roundabouts - visible in the near distance.
Imagine the two options for the Inner Relief Road: a road either adjacent to the ancient Willow Wood (a last remnant of the Forest of Knaresborough) and right over the top of the newly planted Diamond Jubilee Wood (planted by volunteers); or a road running straight through the middle of the two fields and across the wilderness of Bilton Beck Woods, the pristine habitat of owls, badgers and adventurous children.
Imagine the roar of the traffic, (think Ripon Bypass). Imagine the inevitable development that will follow (think Clifton Moor) and imagine the sulphur in your nostrils and the pollution in your lungs from the continued combustion of fossil fuels, by mainly single occupancy vehicles in a world of convenience.
Imagine that scene replacing what you see today. Imagine the destruction of the village of Bilton, a settlement that has sustained for more than a thousand years.
Then councilloors - turn to the Child of the Future and tell her that you’re doing it for her, in the name of sustainability.
Byland Road, Bilton