Dear minister 5 – it’s not all about the money

Therese Coffey
Therese Coffey

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

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9 Replies to “Dear minister 5 – it’s not all about the money”

  1. Mark, how come the other petition is being debated when it only has 25,000 signatures? I thought 100,000 was the starting point!

    1. Bias? Would it be the same if it was the other way around?
      The RSPB got their debate without doing a thing, although presumably Mark invited them.
      Facts are what's important and those will go on record.

    2. Dave

      Whilst it is stated that 100K need to sign a petition to secure, or at least have a chance of securing a debate (let alone an Inquiry!), it is not unprecedented in the context of the online petition, particularly where there are two relevant petitions for both, including the one with less than 100K to be addressed. In my view, it makes very good sense to include the pro-driven grouse shooting petition for a number of reasons but two that I can immediately think of are that it (a) is probably a better use of tax-payers money (MPs don't have to expend time and resources as and if the second petition reaches the threshold; and (b) puts the subject to bed (as it were) - though I suspect that whichever direction Ms Coffey takes, one side will still pursue the petition's aims!

      Secondly, petitioning Parliament is not a recent convention - it dates back to 1688 (or 1406 if you include a gap). I believe anyone can still petition Parliament by the more prosaic method called 'writing a letter'. Whatsmore, it used to be the case that the signatures were counted by clerks, who were paid 12.5 pence (old money) per thousand names.

      One such petition, not Mark's - was found by Parliament not to be worth anything better than being burned!

      More information here:; and a detailed piece here:


    3. Ironically the protect grouse moors for Countryside Alienate and mutant ninja stone curlews petition piggy backed on the over whelming success of the ban the same petition which is disconcerting and bloody frustrating. Last night for the second time I watched the parliamentary hearing, even more impressed how well Mark did and utterly disgusted by the blatant bias, ignorance and gullibility of too many of our elected representatives - Angela Smith was the only one who had any consistency and 'depth'. The truth about what the grouse moors really stand for needs to go directly to Joe and Joanna public - it would help if the RSPB started saying that 'we can help make grouse moors better for wildlife' rather than 'grouse moors are good/great for wildlife', big difference.

  2. I think that it depends entirely on who your friends are. It also doesn't matter really because the counter arguments to Mark's petition are effectively the same ones put forward in favour of the smaller petition so will be debated anyway. Don't worry, the government will be totally impartial throughout. Hmmm?

  3. To all MP's currently thinking Driven Grouse Shooting is a good thing.

    "Changing your mind in the face of evidence is absolutely central to a civilised democratic society" Prof. Brian Cox.

  4. I've asked the same question via a number of sources, I suspect we could all offer up a number of platitudes that'll be rolled out if they can be bothered to respond?

    One assumes that in the spirit of fair play, balance, open and transparent conduct that we'll get a second session if they do actually reach the required 100k.

    If it keeps it in the public eye then that can only be good for the cause?

    The conduct of the proceedings was 'interesting' on the 18th and I suspect today will be a variation? That to me will demonstrate that democracy is not perhaps what it should be, but for the time being I remain an agnostic ....

  5. An ex disgruntled employee is how you have come across,you lied and manipulated ,you were almost completely unprepared and ignorant of what you were about to undertake ,you made a fool of many innocent unaware people and have made it difficult for other petitions of this order to be taken seriously.You carried out a complete disservice to birds and wildlife in this Country, you should hang your head in shame and you showed your self to be a fool.


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