The week started badly with a flaccid statement from the ‘campaigning’ RSPB but ended well with firm action from the staid NT.
Readers of this blog may well be up to date with many aspects of the NT’s decision to terminate a shooting let through the excellent Raptor Persecution UK blog or through Martin Harper’s blog. In essence, the NT has terminated Mark Osborne’s relationship with them on this land because NT did not have confidence that Mr Osborne was working towards the same vision for the area as their own. The NT are looking for tenants who can progress that vision including increasing the raptor populations.
Well, well, well!
It would be unwise to speculate on exactly how the two parties fell out but the NT seem very keen on seeing more raptors and they seem less keen on seeing Mr Osborne managing their land.
The NT has a very good and fairly clear vision for their landholding in the High Peak area of the Peak District National Park, and it is a vision which this blog has supported throughout (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here here) even to the extent of encouraging you, dear readers, to write to the NT when it consulted on that vision. Inglorious praises the NT High Peak vision (pp161-3) and the current Director General of the NT, Dame Helen Ghosh, for standing up for it in a meeting in Penrith in 2014 (185), as well as signalling its potential importance in Chapter 6 (p260).
The NT High Peak vision is a pretty good blueprint for the future of many of our uplands but it is not very close to the state of affairs required for driven grouse shooting. It is very good to see the NT sticking to its guns and requiring its tenants to deliver that vision rather than do their own thing. Well done NT! We knew you had it in you but we were wondering whether it was ever going to come out!
But you can be quite sure that the NT came under considerable pressure from the shooting industry behind the scenes, and sometimes in public, over this vision. That pressure will have been counteracted to a large extent by the focus put on NT activities in this area by this blog and that of Raptor Persecution UK (and no doubt by behind the scenes support by other conservation charities). The NT knew that it was under considerable scrutiny and it seems to have been determined to deliver its far-sighted vision whether the shooters wanted it or not. Anyone who has ‘liked’ my blogs on this subject, commented favourably on them, written to encourage the NT or taken to social media to highlight what NT should do can take satisfaction, and some pride, in this small step in the right direction. The NT is accountable to us – not to the shooting industry.
So, well done NT!
The importance of this move is that it might make others more determined to follow suit and we might see a domino effect. Despite the fact that NT say they will consider a shooting tenant they don’t have to choose another shooter, and if they do, then it doesn’t have to be one who wants to carry out driven grouse shooting – it could be a walked-up shoot. It is even feasible that you and I, and others clubbing together, could buy the shooting rights and then not exercise them. I wonder how the NT would react to such a suggestion? Mind you, I wouldn’t want to pay too much for them.
I’ve written before about how the Peak District could be, and should be, a fulcrum for change. If we could end driven grouse shooting here than we would have a comparison with other sites. When the landscape, wildlife and people didn’t go to hell in a handcart, in fact when they prospered, it would undermine the flawed arguments of the grouse moor industry very effectively. What the NT has done appears to be a small step, but an important step, in the right direction. I know of one reader of this blog who will be very pleased and she won’t be the only one.
Let’s hear it for the falling domino, the NT!
There is more to say about this matter, and about the players in this game, so I will be blogging over the weekend (that’ll teach me to be away from a computer for a couple of days!).
Please sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting to send a strong signal that you would like to see all landowners taking firm action against the damaging sport of driven grouse shooting.
That NT statement:
The National Trust has given notice that the current shooting leases at Hope Woodlands and Park Hall in Derbyshire will end in April 2018.
The charity said it had taken the decision to exercise a break clause in the lease to end the relationship four years early.
Andy Beer, National Trust’s Director for the Midlands, said:
“We have a clear vision for land management and wildlife restoration on the High Peak Moors, which was developed in full consultation with our tenants and other key stakeholders.
All our tenants have signed up to deliver to the vision and understand their responsibilities. We work very closely with our tenants and support, consult and discuss any issues relating to the plan on a regular basis.
However, in this case we have decided, after a meeting with the tenant, that we should revoke the lease four years early as it became clear that we could no longer have confidence that they were committed to the delivery of our vision for the land.
We have given the tenant 22 months’ notice and will start the process of looking for a replacement in 2017, when we will be happy to receive applications from partners who can demonstrate how moorland management and shooting can deliver great nature conservation in a way that is compatible with public access.
We remain committed to the High Peak Moors Vision. As with all our conservation aims, we review and evaluate progress periodically. When considering renewals of individual shooting leases in future we will take into careful account the extent to which our objectives have been me, in particular relating to increasing raptor populations.”