A statement from York City Council:
Following your recent contact with City of York Council I am writing to provide an update on the management of Hob Moor.
As you are probably aware, the council has been in a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement with Natural England since 2010 and there is a farm business tenancy agreement on the land. The intention of the cutting (also known as ‘topping’) that took place on the 20th June was to control weeds on site, in particular to prevent creeping thistle from flowering and therefore spreading, in order to meet the biodiversity objectives in the HLS agreement.
However the topping was carried out too early (before the 1st July) and over too large an area. This was due to a communication breakdown and not an intentional disregard of the requirements of the HLS agreement or the sensitivities of Hob Moor.
Natural England have written to City of York Council to advise that they will be making an assessment of the severity of the impact of the breach in the agreement on the delivery of the objectives of the scheme; we have not been provided with a timescale for this but will comply with any action that they require.
We are working with the tenant farmer to improve lines of communication, refresh understanding of the restrictions and objectives of the HLS agreement, and of wider wildlife issues to ensure this error doesn’t happen again.