Find protected sites in the Bradford District

Bradford’s Biodiversity Map shows the locations of statutory and non-statutory designated wildlife sites in the Bradford District. It also shows locations of the Bradford Habitat Network and Priority Habitat areas.

Find protected sites on the Bradford Biodiversity Map

Statutory Protected sites

The National Site Network (Formally European Natura 2000 Sites)

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for habitats have the highest levels of protection for habitats or species. These sites may contain rare habitats and species or internationally important populations or strongholds for them. These sites are protected by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 ('the Habitats Regulations') as amended by The Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. There regulations are transposed into UK Law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)

The South Pennine Moors SPA/SAC is an internationally important moorland comprising of 4295 hectares. It includes Council owned Ilkley Moor and the moors above Haworth and Bronte Country (Haworth Moor, Keighley Moor, Oxenhope Moor, Thornton Moor).

Information about the potential impacts of new development on the SPA can be found at Protected sites and development proposals.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are the key national nature conservation designation to conserve wildlife species and habitats, and geological or physiographical features, in England and Wales. SSSIs are designated and managed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (amended). National Site Network sites are all also designated as SSSIs.

There are currently 3 SSSIs in the Bradford District.

  • Ilkley Moor (part of SPA/SAC) supports upland moorland and blanket bog habitat with plant species such as cross-leaved heather (Erica tetralix), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtilus), crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), cotton-grass (Eriophorum vaginatum), purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea) sedge species (Carex ) and sphagnum mosses (Sphagnum sp.). It supports internationally important populations of bird species such as golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria), short-eared owl (Asio flammeus), merlin (Falco columbarius), curlew (Numenius arquata), twite (Carduelis flavirostris) and lapwing (Vanellus vanellus). 
  • Bingley South Bog is a valley mire with a mosaic of damp grassland and wetland plant communities; a particularly good range of sedges and regionally rare marsh cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris). It can be seen from Bingley Relief Road which crosses the site.
  • Trench Meadows, near Shipley Glen comprises of 4.7 hectares of lowland meadow. This is a nationally rare habitat. The presence of black knapweed (Centaurea nigra) and Devil’s Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) indicate the importance of this species-rich grassland. The site is managed by grazing. 

Why do we protect them?

These sites form the most important ecological locations in the district, they support internationally important habitats and species and require intrinsic protection. They underpin our policies on Ecological Habitat Networks. They are the core areas for wildlife from which we can expand, link and create stepping stone habitats from and to in order to create a resilient network to protect wildlife from extinction and halt biodiversity loss.

Sites which include blanket bog and wetlands are of particular value for carbon sequestration and flood water retention. Maintenance of these sites in good ecological condition ensures they are able to continue to capture carbon and water, helping to slow climate change and reduce flooding.

How do we protect them?

We manage our most important habitats to preserve their plant and animal communities and improve their conditions. Moorland footpath management on Ilkley Moor reduces the effects of erosion from walkers and cyclists and helps to slow surface water run-off. With partners we have installed leaky dams for natural flood management in drainage channels and becks and planted sphagnum mosses to slow the flow of water and re-wet drained areas of peat and grassland areas.

We have strict planning controls on developments close to the moors and those further away that are likely to reduce in additional pressure on the valuable habitats.

We manage grazing on Bingley South Bog and Trench Meadows SSSIs to ensure the habitats and species that rely on controlled grazing are maintained.

Further information about the potential impacts of new development on SSSI's be found at Protected sites and development proposals.

Local Nature Reserves

Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are a statutory designation made by local authorities under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. They focus on people and nature and are places with wildlife or geological features that are of special interest locally. 

There are currently 3 Local Nature Reserves in the Bradford District;

  • Sun Lane Local Nature Reserve-  Burley
  • Ben Rhydding Gravel Pit- Ilkley
  • Railway Terrace Local Nature Reserve in Oakenshaw.

There are also others close to or adjacent to the District boundary. Although there is no statutory protection for these sites, they are very important to us and we will protect them under our general duty to conserve biodiversity under the Natural Environment Rural Communities Act, 2006.

Non statutory sites

Local wildlife sites

There are currently 152 Local Wildlife Sites and 22 Geological Sites in the Bradford District and more will be designated in future.

These sites have been designated by a West Yorkshire panel of experts because they fulfill qualification criteria for one or more of a number of features (see West Yorkshire Local Wildlife Site Selection Criteria). The Biodiversity Map shows where Local Wildlife Sites are located within the district.

Why do we protect them?

Local Nature Reserves and Local Wildlife Sites support habitats, plant and animal species which are important in the local context. Species such as marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris) and lesser twayblade (Listera cordata), green hairstreak butterfly (Callophrys rubi) and white-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) can be found on our LNRs and LWSs.

How do we protect them?

We work with our local partners such as the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Wharfedale Naturalists and Friends of groups to manage habitats in good condition for the species they are valuable for.

We also carry out natural flood management works and footpath works to slow the flow of water off the land and reduce the effects of recreational erosion.

Ancient Woodland

These are woodlands that have been present since 1600 (when maps started to get accurate). They can either be ancient semi-natural woodlands (managed but never felled) or plantations on ancient woodland sites where the natural trees have been replaced by other trees. They are structurally and ecological diverse with communities of species that have developed over a long period of time.

Why do we protect them?

Due to the length of time the floral and faunal communities have taken to develop, the species and diversity they support, ancient woodlands are considered to be irreplaceable habitats and any loss is unacceptable.

How do we protect them?

Our main focus is to protect ancient woodlands by designating them as Local Wildlife Sites, where they meet criteria, and restoring them wherever possible. 

Development proposals which may impact on ancient woodland are likely to require an ecological survey. 

Priority habitats 

Priority habitats (or Habitats of Principal Importance) are identified by Natural England and protected under the NERC Act 2006 (listed under section 41 of the Act). They are often, but not always, located within protected sites or within the Ecological Habitat Network. Mapping of Priority Habitats can be found on MAGIC, although this does not include all Priority Habitats.

The following priority habitats have been identified in the Bradford District:

  • Hedgerows;
  • Freshwater ponds;
  • Freshwater rivers;
  • Lowland dry acid grassland;
  • Purple moor grass and rush pasture;
  • Blanket bog;
  • Lowland fen;
  • Upland heathland;
  • Lowland heath;
  • Lowland meadow;
  • Lowland mixed deciduous woodland;
  • Wood pasture and parkland

Why do we protect them?

They are important habitats which have suffered declines in recent years. Many areas of priority habitat remain unidentified.

How do we protect them?

Development proposals which occur within or near to an identified priority habitat are likely to require ecological surveys to assess the impact to the habitat. We will expect the integrity of the habitat to be retained, enhanced and protected by appropriate buffers and in many cases this will mean impacts on the priority habitat are avoided.  It is often the case that priority habitats are present which have not yet been identified and if they are found on a site during a survey, they will be protected and enhanced in the same way.

Bradford Ecological Habitat Network

Bradford Council has also mapped an Ecological Habitat Network. This is composed of protected sites (as above) and connecting high value habitats which may include priority habitats, and former local sites such as Sites of Ecological and Geological Importance (SEGI) and Bradford Wildlife Areas (BWA) which did not fulfil the criteria to become Local Wildlife Sites but still have ecological value.

The Ecological Habitat Network will form the basis for Bradford’s Local Nature Recovery Strategy, a requirement of the Environment Act 2021. We will work to increase the size, condition and connectivity of the network to help slow biodiversity loss.

Why do we protect them?

The government through the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires Local Planning Authorities to identify Ecological Habitat Networks in order to ensure ecological resilience across the area it covers.  Strong ecological networks which allow biodiversity to move around, will help to prevent climate change or development pressure leading to the loss or extinction of species or habitats. Ecological Habitat Networks are considered a very important feature within the Metropolitan District Council.

How do we protect them?

Development proposals which occur within or near to the habitat network are likely to require ecological surveys to identify their ecological value and ensure their protection.  In some cases, where no statutory sites are impacted, this may involve assessments to show the integrity of the network will be retained within or adjacent to the development. Mitigation or offsets are likely to be required to protect and enhance the network. The council will also direct mitigation from other sites and projects, wherever possible to enhance them.

Ecological Enhancement

As required by the recently assented Environment Act, 2021, the National Planning Policy Framework and Bradford Council's Core Strategy Policy EN2, development is required to result in positive outcomes for biodiversity. In most cases this will be required to be delivered through habitat enhancement or creation, within a development site, and evidenced using the Defra Biodiversity Net Gain Metric or by inclusion of ecological features such as bat and bird boxes.

Where development is not able to provide on-site enhancement then enhancement proposals should look to increase the size, condition or connectivity of Priority Habitats or Local Wildlife Sites.