THE GREEN Party is hailing the first grouse shooting-free August on Ilkley Moor for more than a decade.

Shooting usually begins on the moor on August 12 (known by hunters as the Glorious Twelfth) and the season then runs until December 10.

Earlier this year, however, landowners Bradford Council took a decision not to renew the grouse shooting licence - to the delight of environmental and animal rights campaigners and Green councillors.

The whole issue hit the headlines again recently when Otley's MP, Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West), called for a national ban on grouse shooting.

Leader of the Green Group on Bradford Council, Martin Love, says the change at Ilkley represents a victory for the majority of moor-users.

He said: "At long last we now see an end to the embarrassment of Bradford being the only local authority in the country to allow blood sports on its land.

"The Green Group on the council were the only councillors to object when the so-called ‘sporting deed’ was granted by the Conservative administration of the time to allow grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor.

"Then in 2013, when Labour ran the council, they chose not to cancel the licence at the half-way point of its lifespan when they had the opportunity.

"After a prolonged campaign, they have relented and now this beautiful asset for our district can be enjoyed by everyone – not just the privileged few."

Those sentiments were echoed by the Green Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Shipley, Celia Hickson.

She also voiced concerns about the environmental impact of grouse moors.

She said: "The over-management of moorland over our valleys leads to increased speed at which water runs off from the moors into the river during the heavy storms.

"This has been a contributing factor to the tremendous flooding that Aire, Wharfe and Calder valleys have suffered in the last few years.

"Moors that are managed for hunts also suffer from reduced biodiversity as priority is given to one species alone, the Red Grouse.

"A consequence of this is the slaughter of other wildlife that is happening on our uplands which not only includes includes the illegal killing of magnificent birds of prey – like the Hen Harrier - but also the legal slaughter of beautiful, iconic mountain hares, stoats and weasels and many other species."

Mr Sobel highlighted similar issues in his statement calling for a national ban, which sparked a mass online debate - and drew criticism from the Countryside Alliance.