Wuthering Moors (56) – the shameful capitulation of state nature conservation

I’m grateful to NE for responding rather rapidly to my EIR/FOI on the moorland management plan for the notorious Walshaw Moor area of west Yorkshire.

Although I am grateful to NE for providing the plan, which you can see is very oddly called a Catchment Restoration Plan, they should be deeply ashamed of its content. This marks a further catastrophic dive in standards for statutory nature conservation in England.

NE has agreed a plan which hardly mentions nature conservation but which includes the building of a brand new track across remote blanket bog and moorland which is notified/designated as SSSI, SAC and SPA.

Here is the estate, north of Hebden Bridge and straddling the boundary of Calderdale and Pendle planning authorities.  This map shows the network of tracks and the area where the proposed new track will go (in pink and dark blue);


…and here is a more detailed map of the proposed track and the peat depths along its route…

Any suggestion that this track would remove the need for a long drive off the moor and back on it again for any shooting party which wants to encompass the southern and northern grouse butts in the same day would be rather churlish and might be wholly inaccurate.

This is a spectacular thing for ‘our’ statutory nature conservation organisation to agree – the further industrialisation of the uplands on driven grouse moors.   A new 5+km track across an SSSI, SPA and SAC?!  Did no-one tell Andrew Sells that this role of his is to ensure that damaging development does not occur to our national assets?  NE is a failing organisation – and shockingly so.

I will come back to Walshaw Moor tomorrow after having a much closer read of this terrible plan.  But it won’t be first thing as tomorrow morning there is a Guest Blog lined up which NE staff involved with moorland management will also need to read, and which provides further evidence, though none is now needed, that NE is not fit for purpose.

We are seeing the complete capitulation of statutory nature conservation to the demands of the hobby of killing birds for fun which is driven grouse shooting.  If it were up to me, and it is if only you will join me too, then I’d force a future government to ban driven grouse shooting.  If you agree, then please sign here.



12 Replies to “Wuthering Moors (56) – the shameful capitulation of state nature conservation”

  1. Is it possible for us to canvas the views of all of the local MP’s that cover the wider Calderdale and Pendle area as they represent the wider community, all of whom have a vote and are affected directly by this issue?

  2. As you say Mark, This so called restoration plan is totally, totally shameful and Natural England is not fit for purpose.
    One, of course, has to consider what is operating behind Natural Englandand and that of course is this Government. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that this Government is also not fit for purpose to protect and enhance nature. The vested interests and privelige of so many members of this Government party mean that their interests will always come first before any consideration of nature. Therefore any occasional statement from them that may sound sympathetic to nature really are “ not worth the paper they are printed on”
    We must turn our attention more to Scotland where at least the Government there seem to be far lees biased and less controlled by privelige and vested interests.

  3. Hmm Davis & Bowring. Hardly a leading independent environmental consultants who have an impartial opinion on managing important protected sites for the benefit of the environment & catchment management.

  4. Love to know who decided to sign off on this and at what level s/he is- I bet it wasn’t the local NE officer.


  5. How can the construction of the track not lead to a loss of the habitat that the site was set up to protect?
    5km of 3m track will lead to the loss of 15000m2 of moorland…15ha!

    This track is not needed for conservation management…so how can it be justified? Was the plan subject to an appropriate assessment? There must be some room for challenge via judicial review… RSPB?

  6. No wonder N.E were not at all concerned that Walshaw estate have recently been upgrading and widening thousands of metres of tracks and putting in 2 large tarmac car parks and more drainage ditches which I reported to them last year.They took 2 months to reply and said it was ok that they had been repairing tracks ! That was the summery of their response.This new potential management plan is utterly irresponsible,will increase the flood risk to the flood prone Calder Valley area,release greenhouse gasses and be detrimental to the ecology of this supposedly protected area.We cannot sit back without a fight.

  7. Is this Davis and Bowring, a team of specialists who are all chartered surveyors which manage and advise Estates across the north of England and Scotland?

    “Helping clients achieve their management objectives on lands in excess of 130,000 acres?

    Lane House
    Kendal Road
    Kirkby Lonsdale
    LA6 2HH

    Tel: 015242 74440



    Through our core business of rural estate management, much of which is grouse moor orientated, we are ideally placed to bring you the very best in sporting opportunities, both at home and abroad.


    Grouse shooting for the first time is an exhilarating experience. You’ve heard all the stories and you are anxious not to let yourself down by missing too many – or even worse – making a dangerous shot.

    The environment is strange but surprisingly comfortable as you lean against the front of your stone built butt, looking out to beautiful heather clad hills unfolding before you. Nothing can prepare you for the adrenaline rush, as contour hugging grouse propel themselves down-wind straight towards you – like a swarm of angry bees.

    You have been taught from an early age never to shoot low as the first covey whizzes by unaddressed – your apprenticeship has begun…

    Grouse moors have a geographical range from the Peak District of Derbyshire in the South to the walking moors of Sutherland in the far North of Scotland. Each region has its own character and particular challenge, from the shimmering mirage lines of grouse appearing over the heat haze of an afternoon on the North York Moors – to the whistle of wings of a down-wind covey approaching from a black storm laden sky on the Pennine moors


    With extensive experience of grouse moor management, Davis & Bowring is ideally placed to advise on all aspects of management.

    This includes:

    Agricultural Environmental Schemes
    Recruitment of keepers
    Heather habitat improvements
    Grazing levels
    Tick control
    Management of Louping Ill
    Gritting regimes
    Grouse population management
    Negotiation with graziers/commoners
    Moor roads and tracks
    Reseeding heather
    Moorland infrastructure
    Vermin control
    SSSI consents
    Vehicle and equipment sourcing and management.”

    Davis and Bowring advertise on UKLandandFarms.co.uk, which is operated by AMC (Agricultural Mortgage Corporation plc), a member of Lloyds Banking Group

    Charlton Place,
    Charlton Road,
    Hampshire SP10 1RE

    1. Yes, that’s the same company. Hardly the sort of organisation/consultancy NE should be allowing to write moorland management plans to fix and manage damaged designated sites.

  8. Though to be fair to NE this agreement looks like a perfect fit with their Conservation 21 Strategy, which is all that seems to matter these days. The rather meaningless quotes in the strategy start to make more sense when you look at how they translate into action on the ground.

    ‘We need to work with people and stakeholders to explore the best options to achieve resilient and healthy landscapes and seas. There will always be a range of perspectives and options, our aim should be to find the best one, not define the right one’

    ‘….our ambition for securing environmental enhancement will move at a pace that endeavours to bring people with us through sustainable, long-term solutions, rather than imposing prescriptions to meet arbitrary delivery timelines.’

    1. Wow. I am actually speechless. Can you imagine the Police coming up with stuff like that? Mark is right – NE are not fit for purpose.

  9. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark: but it is the UK and it isn’t just NE. Does there exist a political party prepared to clean up all this corruption? Let them speak!

  10. I don’t think we should be surprised, NE has scarcely been fit for purpose for some time. Clearly neither they nor the government have any real interest in the environment or conservation beyond the vested interests so clearly evident in this plan!

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