Horse trainer ‘under investigation’ for Baildon mowing

Bradford Council says horse trainer Sue Smith, wife of 81-year-old celebrity showjumper Harvey Smith, is ‘under investigation’ for mowing moorland in the middle of the bird nesting season. The incident was filmed on Baildon Moor north of Bradford, outraging shooting organisations.

The moor is managed by Bradford Council, which already has a poor record managing of Ilkley Moor. In 2018, Bradford Council cancelled grouseshooting leases on Ilkley Moor and refused to burn firebreaks, leading to a wildfire in 2019 that killed an estimated 10,000 chicks and unhatched eggs of rare groundnesting birds.

Mowing moors when many red-listed birds could be nesting “is a travesty”, says the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. Bradford Council says it did not authorise the Sue Smith Racing training yard to mow an existing path on the moorland.

A council spokesman says that police have taken over the case, a wildlife officer has gone up to Baildon Moor to check whether there is wildlife damage. If damage is found, he says, there could be prosecutions.

Message to a viewer from Bradford Council

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, told a local newspaper: “We’d like to thank people for bringing this to our attention. Without our knowledge or permission, someone has mown strips of vegetation on Baildon Moor.”

Mrs Smith was unavailable for comment.

Sue Smith

In a legal letter dated 26 May 2020, more than three weeks after we published this story, City of Bradford assistant solicitor Michael Bowness responds: ‘The incident which occurred on Baildon Moor recently when a local landowner cut vegetation during the nesting season with a tractor was undertaken without the knowledge of permission of the council. This matter was passed to the police. As soon as the council became aware of the incident, it was stopped and the relevant bodies were contacted.’

More on the Bradford legal letter story here