Wuthering Moors 8

Walshaw Moor is owned by Richard Bannister who almost always seems to be described as ‘wealthy’ so I guess he must be.  He lives near the estate and is a director of Walshaw Moor Estate alongside being an apparently successful businessman.  As far as I can recall, he and I have never met but he has met William Hague (and here) – and so have I – so we are connected by that tenuous link!

In its dispute with Natural England, Walshaw Moor Estate enlisted the professional services of a top media firm (Media House International) and legal firm Gordans.

I wonder how Mr Bannister and Walshaw Mooor Estate are feeling about the outcome of their dispute with Natural England (who were presumably acting on behalf of the environment).  Mr Bannister is perfectly entitled to manage his land in whatever way he wishes providing he keeps within the law – and in this area it is perhaps the case that the law is not always completely clear.  But in any case, I would love to know how Mr Bannister feels about this case and its outcome although he would be under no obligation to tell me. He could just ignore my enquiry altogether or write back and tell me that it is none of my business.  Let’s see what he does do in response to this letter:

Dear Mr Bannister

I don’t believe we have met but as someone who has spent their working life to date in nature conservation I am personally very interested in the outcome of your dispute with Natural England that was highlighted so interestingly in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper on 5 February this year and which was the subject of a joint statement by Natural England and your Estate on 9 March.

If you would like to tell the world about how you feel about the case and how it was resolved then I would be very happy to post a Guest Blog from you on my website www.markavery.info .

If you were minded to reply then I think that the readers of my blog would be interested to know how your team managed to come to an agreement with Natural England – was this on the basis of some scientific agreement or on some other grounds? What tactics did you use to influence the Natural England position as they appear to have been very successful and I wonder whether you have a lot of useful tips to pass on to other landowners caught in similar situations?  Do you feel that you were treated well by the whole process or do you have remaining grounds for complaint? Do you feel very relieved at the outcome of your dispute? What are your plans for management of your grouse moor in future?  Have you agreed an HLS agreement with Natural England and do you regard that as a lucrative or a parsimonious allotment of taxpayers’ money?

You are, obviously, under no obligation whatsoever to answer any of these questions nor even to answer this letter.  I am a betting man and I would rate my chances of getting a reply as about 20/1 but then outsiders do sometimes romp home as was shown by Brae Hill winning the Lincoln at 25/1 on Saturday.

However, I thought I would offer you the chance to express your views on this matter.  I am also writing to Natural England and Defra asking them a series of questions about this case and they are under an obligation to be forthcoming.

Yours sincerely


3 Replies to “Wuthering Moors 8”

  1. Congratulations for the initiative, Mark – very ‘Big Society’ of you. Your letter is just the sort of thing the government should approve of, at least in theory (although perhaps the nitty gritty of this matter never reached the Minister’s ears or desk…). If in a sudden bout of transparency and genuine interest in explaining how this decision serves the public good, NE and Defra are both prompt and forthcoming, do you think the odds of Mr Bannister replying will lengthen or shorten?

  2. I’m sure Mr Bannisters legal team may suggest “no comment” like most questioned individuals who want to keep things to themselves. Im sure however he will be as happy as a grouse on a trashed moor with the outcome. Mr Benyon however needs to be squeaky clean and open when he or his minions respond to you other letter!

  3. I looked at PR Week via the link, and the piece by one Mark Cartmell, and it was a depressing experience. Notice the way it even uses the word “Quango” in the picture caption, as if that proved the point. Now would Caliban say to Prospero: “You taught me language, and the profit on’t is, I can go into PR.”

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