Large areas of the Peak District close to Sheffield are to be handed over to a charity and conservation group to run.
Burbage, Houndkirk and Hathersage Moors – which cover around four square miles – will be leased to the National Trust and the RSPB for 25 years if proposals are approved tomorrow.
Sheffield Council says the change will lead to more than £350,000 of investment on the moors, plus extra staff and a co-ordinated approach to visitor management for the first time.
The new arrangement also addresses dwindling funding as the council feels the impact of Government cuts.
“Existing resources are inadequate to ensure sustainable management, a situation which is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future,” says a report to the council’s cabinet meeting.
The council has owned Burbage, Houndkirk and Hathersage Moors since the 1920s and the land forms a significant part of the Sheffield Moors Partnership, which was set up in 2010.
For the last five years the National Trust has managed the land on a temporary basis but the short-term agreement is restrictive.
Coun Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “This new lease agreement allows these groups to plan the management and bring investment into this sensitive area over a longer time-scale, using their extensive expertise and resources.”
Ted Talbot, countryside manager for the National Trust in the Peak District, said: “Our natural environment is increasingly under pressure and the trust believes we need to meet these challenges.”
The cabinet reports show there were 24 responses to the plans when they were first advertised, most of them positive.
However one person objected and Dore Village Society also raised concerns.
The objector felt there had been too little public discussion on the plan and not enough transparency over the lease terms.
The village society feared Blacka Moor land would be ‘over managed’.
The council says the detailed lease terms are ‘commercially sensitive’ and so cannot be examined but it has provided an overview and there will be forums open to the community as part of the agreement.
Agreed break points will be written into the contract which mean after the first five years there will be the option to add further land – the former Burbage Plantation – to the lease as well.