These notes cover the whole of Rombalds Moor, not just the area that is the concern of the Friends of Ilkley Moor, as any dog walker starting a walk on Ilkley Moor, may easily end up on one of the adjacent moors.
Good Practice & Legal Requirements
All dog owners will like seeing their dog run freely on the Moor, but there are three points that must be borne in mind.
Ground nesting birds
Research shows that where dogs are running free, ground nesting birds will not nest within 250m of a path. By contrast birds will nest within 25m of a path where dogs are kept on a lead. Moreover raptors will follow a free ranging dog and will be able to see nests when the highly camouflaged parent has been disturbed. They will then eat the eggs or chicks.
So anyone who wishes to hear a skylark sing, or to see a little owl, should keep their dog on the lead on the upper slopes of the Moor between 1st March and 31st July.
If dogs are running free at that time then a half kilometre wide strip of land around a path will be denuded of ground nesting birds.
In the same spirit, it is obviously better that dogs should not chase wildlife, so please do not, for example, let your dog chase the ducks on the Tarn
Any dog worrying livestock (and this includes simply chasing them) may be shot by the farmer, so keep your dog under close control when there are sheep about. Note, only the farmer can shoot a dog (under the Dogs [Protection of Livestock] Act 1953) so a gamekeeper threatening to do so would have no legal sanction to do so.
Dog mess is distasteful so please pick up and dispose of your dog’s mess. But please remember, plastic bags of dog mess are even more distasteful, so if you are out on the Moor it is better to leave the dog mess to be eaten by slugs etc. than to put it in a plastic bag and leave it.
The law governing dogs is complicated by the fact that it comes from different pieces of legislation and some provisions do not seem to mesh with others. I have attempted to make it as simple as possible, but please note, this explanation has been devised by a layman; it is possible that a lawyer might find flaws.
There is a general requirement on dog owners to have their dogs under control at all times. This means training. A trained dog is a happy dog. We have had very good experiences with the Embsay Dog Training Club. We will happily recommend other dog training schemes if members recommend them.
CROW Act Open Access Land
On open access land under the CROW Act 2000 the situation becomes more complicated. There is a general national requirement that during the period 1st March to 31st July a person is not entitled to be on access land with a dog unless it is on a short lead (defined as less than 2m) and at any time of the year on open access land ‘in the vicinity of livestock’ with a dog unless it is on a short lead (‘vicinity’ is not defined). Note: Ilkley Moor is included in the definition ‘open access land’.
Natural England have the right to impose an absolute access restriction between 1st March and 31st July (i.e. not even dogs on lead) however there is another provision that allows customary rights to override the provisions of the CROW Act. It might be argued that on Addingham High Moor, for example, dogs have customarily been allowed at all times, and this overrides the absolute restriction imposed by Natural England. Similarly, it might be argued that there have never been any dog restrictions on Ilkley Moor and this overrides the general requirement to keep a dog on lead during the period from 1st March to 31st July.
Under the CROW Act there is also a specific offence of ‘reckless disturbance’ of schedule 1 birds. This might be taken to apply to free running dogs in the breeding season, however the majority of moorland ground nesting birds are not on schedule 1.
The enforcement authority for Ilkley Moor, is the local authority. The shoot that has leased the shooting rights (and hence the gamekeepers employed by the shoot) have no right to enforce any restrictions on dogs but are at liberty to point out concerns to members of the public, so long as this is done in a courteous manner. A gamekeeper threatening to shoot a dog might be deemed guilty of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour under the Public Order Act1986.
Access on Rombalds Moor
Dog access on the Moor is complicated by the number of different requirements on different areas of Rombalds Moor. All of Rombalds Moor is open access under the CROW Act. There is a general right of access, for recreation on foot, and this includes activities like walking, sightseeing, bird watching, picnicking, climbing and running. On those parts of the moor registered as urban common, there is also a right to ride horses. Ilkley and Burley Moors are urban commons, although an Order of Limitation on Burley Moor restricts horse access to certain routes at certain times of year.
Under the CROW Act owners are entitled to ask for dog restrictions on moors managed for grouse. Most of these restrictions end on 31st March 2010 and will have to be reviewed then. The rights of access for dogs are listed below under the name of each Moor.
There are never any restrictions on the right of access for guide dogs or hearing dogs for the deaf on any open access land, or for any dogs under close control on a public footpath. ‘Close control’ is not defined. It does not necessarily mean on a lead if a dog has been taught to walk to heel. You may walk with your dog at any time on a public footpath
Ilkley Moor Dogs are always allowed, but from 1st March to 31st July they must be kept on lead to protect ground nesting birds. However, see the note above about customary rights.
Burley Moor there is a restriction on Burley Moor (which is an urban common) but these are under the Law of Property Act and will not expire. This requires dogs to be on lead at all times except on certain specified routes. The CROW Act exemption for guide dogs and hearing dogs probably does not apply. Under CROW Act dogs are not permitted on a very small area below Stead Crag and on Craven Hall Hill until March 2010 (except guide dogs etc and dogs on a public footpath, as above).
The Burley Moor restriction predates the Commons Act 2006 and the CROW Act 2000. It is appears to restrict the rights of dogs even on public footpaths although this needs clarification.
Morton Moor, Bingley Moor, Hawksworth Moor dogs are not permitted on these moors (except guide dogs etc and dogs on a public footpath, as above).This restriction expires 28.3.2010 (20/10/10 on Hawksworth Moor) unless renewed.
Addingham High Moor dogs are not permitted on this moor from 1st March to 31st July annually to protect ground nesting birds (except guide dogs etc and dogs on a public footpath, as above).This restriction will also apply to Morton Moor, Bingley Moor and Hawksworth Moor if the discretionary dog ban currently in place is lifted after in 2010. In other words dogs will be allowed on these moors at other times if the general restriction is lifted. However, see the note above about customary rights on Addingham High Moor.
Information about dog restrictions can be found on www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk Under ‘Open Access’ click on ‘view the maps’ to find detailed information.