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Ireland Bridge

Bingley's Ireland Bridge was historically a significant crossing point over the River Aire in West Yorkshire, England. It is now the main route between Bingley & the nearby villages of Harden, Wilsden & Cullingworth. The current bridge dates from 1686.[1] The All Saints Parish Church and the Old White Horse Inn, a Coaching inn were constructed very close to the eastern bank and Bingley's modern town centre spread south from these beginnings.

The bridge has undergone major strengthening works but has been deemed unfit for two-way traffic. It now has traffic lights at either end allowing only a single lane across, creating quite a disruption to local traffic, especially at peak times.

Bradford Council are planning further works to strengthen the bridge in 2009, beginning in early July* until early December and these works will result in the closure of Harden Road over the bridge to vehicles for most of this period. [2]

*Press Release from Bradford Council, released on the 4th of June 2009

Works on Ireland Bridge are likely to be delayed until the New Year owing to rare bats roosting in the spans of the bridge. The works for strengthening the bridge were due to start next month but recently it was discovered that a colony of rare whiskered bats resided in two of the arches in the bridge. All species of bats and their roosts are protected in the UK by strict wildlife laws and therefore Bradford Council legally have to carry out certain measures to ensure the welfare of the bats. Natural England and Bradford Council engineers met this week with Peter Brooks, an independent ecologist advising the Council who agreed that carrying out the works in the New Year would provide the least disruption to the maternity roost currently in the bridge, any hibernating bats and the businesses and shoppers using the bridge in the lead-up to Christmas. Peter Brooks said recent recordings strongly indicated whiskered bats but surveys were still ongoing. "This is a really interesting site," he said, "and one of the largest roosts I've found in my career for these type of bats. It is important that we make the bridge safe but keep the bats here, and we will be working hard with Bradford Council this summer to ensure this really important roost is preserved." Coun Anne Hawkesworth, Executive Member for Environment & Culture, said: "We acknowledge how important it is to ensure the preservation of this site and are therefore co-operating fully with Natural England to stay within the law and retain the environmental benefits for such a rare species in Bradford." Mark Brundle, Senior Engineer, said: "We are now looking at starting the work in January. We will have to start some minor works underneath the bridge in September. This work will require the exclusion of the bats from the bridge to prevent them hibernating and the erection of suitable bat boxes a little further down the river. The works will need to be completed by the end of February so that the female bats can start building up their maternity roosts in March and April. "There are seven spans in the bridge and the bats seem to have made just a couple of them their homes, so they need to be back into those particular spans by the end of February." Councilor Hawkesworth explained the works were originally planned to start in July to strengthen the 17th century bridge to enable it to carry two lanes of traffic. Traffic is currently limited to one lane of traffic as the parapets and the walls between the arch ring and parapet were weak. Ireland Bridge is listed Grade 2 because of its rarity and quality. It was built of dressed stone in 1685 on an ancient crossing point of the river, and then widened in 1775. Large water mains and high voltage electricity supplies had posed technical problems but solutions had been found and the Council were ready to go ahead with the works in July. Coun Hawkesworth said: "Once the strengthening of the bridge has been completed, it will reduce the journey time along Harden Road and restore this historic structure to meet public demands. It is a rare example of Bingley's heritage and we would like to keep it for future generations." Peter Nottage, Regional Director at Natural England, said: "Bats may be a fairly common sight around buildings at dusk but they are actually quite rare. "These nocturnal creatures and their roosts are therefore protected and Natural England is consulted when building work may affect them. Bradford Council has a duty to ensure they stay within the law and we are working closely with them to try and limit any unnecessary disruption. "Therefore Bradford Council needs to continue to work with Peter Brooks of BE Brooks Ecological Ltd and apply for a European Protected Species licence from us to carry out the works in a way and at a time when the bats will not be harmed."


  1. ^
  2. ^ Letter from Transport and Highways Service dated 7th April 2009

Coordinates: 53°51′01″N 1°50′29″W / 53.85030°N 1.84145°W / 53.85030; -1.84145



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