Dear Therese Coffey
I have already covered four areas relevant to the debate on driven grouse shooting that takes place this afternoon in previous blogs today (wildlife crime, conservation impacts, public opinion, wider environmental impacts) but the last one is that of economic value.
Defra has relied on figures provided by the grouse shooting industry itself to claim that driven grouse shooting has economic value to rural communities. These estimates are self-generated by those who wish them to be as high as possible! You should take them with a pinch of salt but in any case they are very small – a few tens of millions of pounds per annum.
The grouse shooters are, as usual, coy about where the figures come from but they have been criticised by academics for being over-estimates, ignoring the economic costs of the environmental damage caused by intensive management, including public subsidies which would go to rural areas in the absence of grouse shooting and ignoring the value of alternative economic enterprises (eg eco-tourism) which could evolve to replace driven grouse shooting. With more carbon storage, less flooding, lower water treatment costs and more scope for eco-tourism the English uplands, and especially National Parks, have nothing to fear from losing an archaic, damaging and unsustainable activity whose benefits are enjoyed only by the few and whose costs are spread amongst the many. And the costs outweigh the benefits as any formal analysis would demonstrate once you got the data from water companies, insurers etc).
But in any case (Blog 1 this morning), driven grouse shooting is underpinned by and depends on wildlife crime. Even if all the flawed industry estimates were correct, that money depends on breaking the law and cannot be used to justify the continuation of this damaging land use.
I’ll look forward to listening to the debate and hearing from you how you think the government should tackle the issues that over 123,000 people want you to address.
Dr Mark Avery