Wuthering Moors 26

Ban The Burn campaigners launched a national campaign on Sunday evening, August 12th, in Hebden Bridge. The Ban the Burn! campaign aims are:

  • a ban on burning and draining blanket bog
  • an end to loopholes in the Heather & Grass Burning Code and other regulations
Photo: www.energyroyd.org.uk

Environmental scientist Dr Aidan Foley had an upbeat message for the campaigners;

I think one of the most important things for people to realise is not only that they can do something about this problem to improve the management of the catchment, the solution to the problem is very simple. It involves filling in the drains on the moors and allowing them to re-vegetate. Filling them in lifts the water table, which means that there’s greater storage much higher up the catchment. That changes the vegetation again to what it should be, that is sphagnum moss-based. And that’s simple and straightforward.

Well over 50 local residents and people from across the UK met up at the Trades Club after walking together to Walshaw Moor grouse-shooting estate, where they saw for themselves how burning and draining have damaged the blanket bogs and wet heathland.

Photo: www.energyroyd.org.uk

Hebden Bridge resident Caroline Elbridge explains;

We’re concerned that the land around the town isn’t being managed for all of the people in the town – it’s just being managed for some of the people, for their sport, and it’s not about what’s best for everyone.” 

During the walk and the campaign launch, Aidan was on hand to explain how damage to the moor’s blanket bogs leads to: 

  • increased flood risk in Hebden Water
  • very significant carbon emissions
  • adverse impacts on water quality
  • the destruction of a globally significant habitat type

Calderdale Councillor Janet Battye, who joined the walk instead of digging her garden, said;

I’m here because the big issue that I’m interested in is that our moors are as healthy as they can be, so they can absorb as much water as possible and help prevent flooding. We need to do all that we can to keep water out of the valley and it’s my belief that one of the ways of doing this is to make sure the moorland’s working properly.


This campaign has attracted national attention and deserves to receive great support.  

Links to media coverage:

Guardian newspaper, Morningstaronline, BBC news.

Links to other commentary:

Hebden Bridge website, Heather Trust.

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30 Replies to “Wuthering Moors 26”

  1. Interested in the comment that things aren’t being managed for all the people in the area, just for some, for their sport.

    Having lived in the country for most of my life, I am getting really tired of the opinions of a minority being put forward as those of ‘country folk’, and the implication that anyone who opposes them must be a ‘townie’ who doesn’t understand rural traditions.

    Good to see local people getting together, and getting wider support.

  2. What is a tradition? Driven Red Grouse shooting only started in 1851. It totally destroyed Black Grouse as the two species had different habitats and Blacks were then classed as ‘Vermin’. Before this date Blacks were the prefered species to shoot. The fact some one owns the land does not mean he can flood neighbouring towns and cities just for a few extra Red Grouse. Come on Carlisle, York and many more. Wake up to your fate if you do not do a Hebdon Bridge!

  3. Heather, sadly while Defra is being managed by an individual who owns a number of shooting estates, both in England and in Scotland, employs gamekeepers and recently attempted to control buzzards and opposes the introduction of Vicarious Liability, it is doubtful issues concerning raptors or the responsible management of our uplands will change for the better any time soon.

  4. I would say blanket afforestation causes much more in the way of flood damage.
    Interesting to note lots of moors are now blocking drainage ditches !!

  5. I just can’t understand why only 50 out of the population of 11,549 for Hebden Bridge plus numerous thousand of others in the outlying districts took to the moors for this ‘High profile’ demonstration.

  6. Surprising only 50 people turned out, it’s easy to ignore 50 people.
    Is there a petition?
    More voices need to be heard by politicians and Defra.

  7. Another way to make the authorities sit up and take note would be to report all breaches of the Heather and grass burning code and regulations to the Rural Payments Agency here.


    You will find that every grouse moor in the country is in breach of all the regulations and code.

  8. Does the heather trust really think that bad moorland management from shooting interest (such as draining, tracks and drying out of bogs) has no effect on water discharge and downstream flooding? I’m also interested in the financial argument they front in support of their hobby – its hugely subsidised by the tax payer! I know they are trying to defend their own position but do they think the wider public are stupid? Looks a worried response to the situation to me.

  9. If in the end science proves there is a relationship between poor moorland management and run off causing downstream flooding to towns such as we have seen in Carlisle, Hebdon Bridge and York, and the government do nothing to improve the situation then the government, not the insurance companies, should pick up the tab.

  10. All,

    On a not entirely unrelated subject, the Law Commission has just published its consultation on its review and reform of wildlife legislation (see http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/consultations/wildlife.htm).

    Of particular relevance to debates discussed on this blog are those question posed in Chapter 9 (and in particular paragraphs 9.97 – 9.116); including vicarious liability but note other subject areas too. If the Walshaw Estate issue can be intelligently (i.e. no ranting or emotive comments) introduced in answering any of the questions, this may bring to light, the general public’s view on such matters to civil servants (and lawyers) who may not routinely engage with specific issues such as the ones discussed.

  11. Terry what moors would be affecting Cockermouth & Carlisle ?
    I did hear a story about 3 harrier nests damaged due to the new powerlines in the North of Scotland.
    Those involved have kept it rather quiet but im sure you know about what happened Mark ?

  12. Off topic but has anybody seen the reaction to Brian May wearing a badger and fox on his t-shirt at the closing of the olympics.

    The usual suspects have called it shameful, etc and have stamped their feet like spoilt little kids, why do they always react like this, like innocents who have been wronged yet will rant at anyone who dares disagree with them.

    Certantly fits in to the ‘bully boy’ profile which is basically what these people are.

    Might be worth a blog spot Mark as Brian May really waved a banner for British wildlife on Sunday Night.

    1. I think the point about Brian May is that the Olympics are meant to be non political. There are countless causes that no doubt many of the entertainers would like to make a point about but none of them did – except Brian May. I think it would be a shame if this sets a precedent. That point has nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness of Mr May’s cause.

      1. The badger community were appalled by Brian May’s performance. A spokesbadger said “The hieroglyphs on his clothes were completely lost on most badgers, who thought they were something to do with Stargate, and the cacophony and distortion of the solo through his overdriven amplifier caused many badgers to seek out the deepest recesses of their setts. This performance has set back our cause by about 40 years. He should stick to astrology.”

  13. I brought brian May into because the usual suspects are involved here to, you know the type, knows it all about the country, calls anyone who does’nt agree a townie says things are shameful and then goes and blows somethings head off.

    1. Say Mark Avery had been invited to do his impression of the Dartford Warbler – would it have been appropriate for him to attend in his ‘Save Walshaw Moor’ tee shirt. I think not.

      1. I agree Giles, Brian May’s actions were inappropriate however I have to confess that I didn’t actually notice but then it was getting late and that bottle of red did need finishing.
        “Say Mark Avery had been invited to do his impression of the Dartford Warbler – would it have been appropriate for him to attend in his ‘Save Walshaw Moor’ tee shirt”…yes totally inappropriate but definately well worth seeing!

  14. If you honestly think the Olympics is non political I’m astounded, its as unpolitical as it is un commercial. remember a time when it was for ameuteurs. He actually made no official statement but simply wore a badger / fox emblem. How many athelites wore a Puma on their clothes.

    Wildlife is british and didnt get a mention, do you think an African nation would not celebrate it’s wildlife at their Olympics. Not once did I see ‘save the abdger’ or hear him say that, you read what you wanted into it.

    I applaud him, its the Olympics-so-is that more important than wildlife? He made a stand whilst most simply tap on forums about this that and the other. Actions speak louder than words……

  15. Hi Mark

    Thanks for posting this press release. Please would you add http://www.energyroyd.org.uk to the list of relevant websites at the bottom of your post? The website has a BanTheBurn! strand http://www.energyroyd.org.uk/archives/tag/ban-the-burn that carries frequently updated posts on the campaign, the Environmental Stewardship Agreement between Walshaw Moor Estate Ltd & Natural England, Blanket bog restoration and importance, and Environmental Information Regulations.

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