Dear Calder Valley constituents
I’d like to thank you for your support for my e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting. Your constituency has provided the largest number of signatures supporting my e-petition – over 850 signatures with just over a week to go.
I guess that the reason that support has been so strong from places such as Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge, Rastrick and Brighouse is that these areas are all susceptible to flooding and that moorlands on the hills above such towns are the source of much of the flood water. This includes areas such as Walshaw Moor which has been under a spotlight ever since Natural England started legal proceedings against it back in 2011/12.
I know that many of you believe that the intensive management of the moors above your towns has increased the frequency and intensity of floods in recent years, and that those floods have caused misery in your community because of their effects on businesses and homes. My view, based on the studies from Leeds University and others, is that you are right to look to the hills for the source of your problems.
A ban on driven grouse shooting would remove such intensive and damaging management from the uplands of Britain and would lessen flood risk for many homes and home insurance costs for many people (for we all bare some of these costs – though some communities much more than others).
I’ve visited Walshaw Moor and stayed in the Crown Inn in Hebden Bridge on two occasions, I interviewed the former landlady, Lesley Wood about the impacts of the 2012 floods on her business for my book Inglorious – conflict in the uplands, and I’ve spoken on these matters in the Trades Hall at Hebden Bridge. I really hope that the government will respond to your plight and my e-petition provides an opportunity for them to do so.
I wonder whether your MP, Craig Whittaker, will speak in the debate and what he will say if he does. Surely, he ought to be putting your case for relief from the danger of flooding and for action to be taken to manage our hills much better for the benefit of the many and not just for the few who pursue the hobby of driven grouse shooting.
And I wonder what the Defra minister who will wind up the debate will say – will she (for it is likely to be Therese Coffey) acknowledge your position and offer any hope of a solution?
Thank you again for your support for my e-petition. I wonder how close to 1000 signatures you will get by the time when the petition closes at midnight on 20 September?