BRADFORD Council is planning "robust" action after reports of grouse being driven from Ilkley Moor to be shot.

Grouse shooting was banned on the moor at the start of 2018 when the council refused to renew a lease - but there are fears that birds are being deliberately driven onto private land to be killed.

Now Bradford is looking at taking tougher action after an allegation of an incident in October - and the Friends of Ilkley Moor are urging the public to report any attempts to get round the ban.

A Bradford Council spokesperson, said: "This is the second time we have received a report of grouse being driven from our land onto private land to be shot and we are extremely disappointed this has happened again.

"The Bingley Moor Estate’s rights to drive and shoot grouse on Ilkley Moor expired in 2018, and last time this occurred we issued them with a legal warning.

"Our staff have been trying to maintain good relations with the people from the Estate, but we are now seeking legal advice with a view to taking more robust action."

The friends group issued a statement saying: "The Friends of Ilkley Moor are extremely concerned at what appears to be a concerted effort to get around the ban on shooting on Ilkley Moor. We call on the Council to take robust legal action. We urge any member of the public witnessing what appears to be a drive, to drive birds off Ilkley Moor, to take photographs and report the matter to ourselves and to Bradford Countryside Service"

An alleged incident on October 18 was reported by an Ilkley woman, who does not want to be named.

She said:"I was walking with my dog in an area of moorland west and uphill from Silverwell cottage when I noticed a group of at least eight people walking in a line from Addingham Moorside towards Keighley Road. As they approached Keighley Road, they changed direction and started walking in formation towards Addingham Moorside.

"It was an organised group, several (perhaps all) of the group were carrying walkie talkies which were in operation at the time. They were also carrying flags and had a number of dogs with them. I clearly saw ground birds being 'lifted' as they walked the area.

"Gun shots could be heard, but I did not see the guns being fired. I assume the birds were being led to the area where shooting was taking place.

"I stopped to take some photos, as I was surprised and unnerved to see beaters operating on Ilkley Moor, where grouse shooting is banned.

"Once back at Keighley Road, I saw nine 4x4 type vehicles parked. This was above the parking area next to the driveway of Silverwell Cottage, above the sign stating not suitable for vehicles."

Bingley Moor Partnership spokesman Edward Bromet said: "I do not deny we were there however Ilkley Moor is open access land for any member of the public including ourselves under CROW ( Countryside and Rights of Way)Act 2000 and since the ending of the lease by Bradford MDC we have to exercise this right to walk across it to reach Addingham Moor which we (the Bingley Moor Partnership) continue to manage.

"There is no prescription in the CROW Act as to whether a group of people have to walk in a group or in a line or three or four at a time etc. It is a general right to roam, which Bradford MDC are happy to see exercised on Ilkley Moor but it inevitably disturbs wild ground nesting birds including red grouse which are native to the moorland. Where that bird then chooses to fly is of course at its discretion.

"I confirm no shooting took place on Ilkley Moor. We parked beside the public highway in a car park, the same as many other visitors to Ilkley Moor do on a daily basis. We do not see we should be criticised for exercising rights available to the general public."

"In the meantime, BMDC continue to use public funds to try and manage Ilkley Moor without any skills or machinery when they are unable to provide vital social services in central Bradford and elsewhere."