OLDs at West Pennine Moors SSSI

The long story of protecting the West Pennine Moors as an SSSI has come to its administrative climax with the publication of the legal documents following an NE Board meeting in July.

Because new SSSIs aren’t that common, and new upland ones certainly aren’t, I actually glanced through the document with some interest, when my eye was caught by some familiar words in an interesting place.

In the list of ‘Operations Likely to Damage’, or OLDs, we find at the end of the list ‘Use of lead shot’.  This means that NE require anyone who wishes to carry out this OLD to seek permission (which may be refused) in advance because this activity may damage the features of interest of the SSSI. Well that’s interesting, isn’t it?

This isn’t going to hamper the locals in this SSSI very much, and one wonders if and how it will be enforced, but what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. So I look forward to seeing ‘Use of lead shot’ being added to the list of OLDs for Bowes Moor SSSI, Arkengarthdale, Gunnerside and Reeth Moors SSSI, Bowland Fells SSSI and many others. I’ve asked NE what plans they have to add ‘Use of lead shot’ to the OLDs of other blanket bog SSSIs.



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10 Replies to “OLDs at West Pennine Moors SSSI”

  1. Consents for OLDs are normally issued because the potentially damaging activities can be mitigated. For example, hunting or recreational activities can be restricted so as not to impact on sensitive species or damage vegetation. But if lead ammunition is deemed to be potentially damaging then it's difficult to see how this could be mitigated other than by not using it. And, as you say, if it's considered damaging for this site then what about all the others where it is currently used? Is this essentially as admission that they are (potentially) being damaged?

  2. Considering how long lead persists in the landscape, and the horrifying effects it has on hundreds of thousands of birds EACH YEAR in the UK, can't understand why it's legal at all... Studies show the difference between lead and steel shot is virtually negligible. So does it come down to cost of ammunition? Funny, these are the same people who call themselves 'custodians of the countryside'...

  3. It does rather beg the question about all the other moorland/blanket bog SSSIs and there are lots of them. The whole of those that make up the North Pennines, South Pennine, North York Moors and Bowland SPAs to start with. These are of course mainly grouse moors where people with expensive guns and even more expensive shooting tastes will be shooting at Red Grouse from now until the 10th December, I wonder what proportion will be using lead free shot? Few I suspect.

  4. Why bother about lead on wet moors just now? Is there new science re the susceptibility of certain acid bog flora and fauna to lead salts? If so, which species are at risk? Or is NE’s sudden enlightenment a result of the growing acceptance that lead sprayed anywhere in the countryside is bad news – period?
    Incidentally, have crops (especially root crops) from particular arable fields over which thousands of pheasants are shot decade after decade, ever been tested for lead?

    1. murray - there's precious little testing for lead!

      There is the story, which I believe to be true but cannot verify, of the chicken farm that was set up on a former clay shoot which had to close because the hens got ill and the eggs were found to be high in lead and had to be withdrawn from the shelves -so you definitely have a point.

      1. Perhaps it relates to this:
        "Lead intoxication incidents associated with shot from clay pigeon shooting"
        "Lead poisoning was confirmed in a flock of 2000 free range laying hens which were 42 weeks into lay. The hens' range was next to an active clay pigeon shoot. The flock had never reached its expected production potential and mortality had slowly increased."

        "Waitrose recalls thousands of organic eggs over lead scare":

        "Free-range birds from one flock wandered on to a field being used for clay pigeon shooting and ate lead shot.
        A vet was called after some of the chickens became ill and it was discovered they had higher than normal levels of lead in them.
        The eggs were then removed from the shelves."

  5. Don't forget the story about the practice range of Peter Wilson, the 2012 Olympic double trap shooting champion, being threatened by closure over a row about lead pollution of adjacent farmland:


  6. The concerns here are probably more to do with the breeding birds rather than the vegetation. Wildfowl and waders are mentioned on the citation and both groups can ingest lead directly as 'grit'. Raptors and Ravens are also mentioned and could ingest lead through their prey. Ravens might be especially vulnerable due to their scavenging habits. Why take the chance of poisoning the interest features of the sssi when safe, non-lethal alternatives are available?

  7. Ian, re vegetation, our tiny Victorian terraced house garden soil is too high in lead to grow root vegetables safely. The reason is probably due to the old practice of composting house dust. Decades of floor sweepings with old lead paint flakes would have been one source of contamination while another would have been trampled pavement dirt from the leaded petrol era.
    Lead is insidiously pervasive.

  8. On a recent visit to Swaledale we were amazed not to see a single bird of prey during several days walking in the area. On mentioning this to our B&B hosts they told us local gamekeepers shoot any such birds on sight! Not sure whether lead shot involved but the culture of cleansing grouse moors of birds of prey for shooting interests is surely more to the point. The RSPB assured us they are aware of the problem in the area and monitor the s


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