Blog posts titled Wuthering Moors are about the issue of burning of blanket bogs by grouse shooting estates (e.g. Wuthering Moors 28, 15 October 2012), the inability of the government agency Natural England to do its job properly on regulating landowners on protected moorland sites (Wuthering Moors 68 – the background to an unlawful decision, 11 May 2018 and Wuthering Moors 67 – a significant victory, 10 May 2018) , and the pickle into which the UK government has got itself with the European Commission over its poor implementation of the Habitats Directive (eg Wuthering Moors 70 – EU infraction proceedings, 13 August 2018).
Today the quite wonderful Guy Shrubsole has released the list of estates that have signed up to Defra’s worthless promise not to burn blanket bogs – see here – and also those who have not made the pledge.
Most notable of all the estates is the fact that Walshaw Moor estate appears not to have signed up to Defra’s MoU which is not worth the paper it is written on. Almost everybody else has signed up (including the likes of the Bleasdale and Abbeystead estates in Bowland).
The apparent unwillingness of Walshaw Moor to sign up is particularly interesting given that this long and sorry tale started with events on Walshaw Moor back in the mists of time – or at least as far back as 2011 and actually further back than that (see my book Inglorious – conflict in the uplands for a readable account of events and search this site for all ‘Wuthering Moors’ posts for a staccato, ongoing update.
I have a certain amount of respect for the millionaire owner of Walshaw Moor, Richard Bannister, who seems to plough his own furrow, and his own grouse moor, more or less as he pleases without too much notice of what everyone else is doing.
On Twitter I see that today, the day when the heather burning season opens in England, the fires are burning above Hebden Bridge. Whether this is on Walshaw Moor I don’t know for certain but it certainly looks like it to me, and whether this is on blanket bog or heathland I cannot tell. It would be interesting to know, but difficult to be sure at this stage.
Photo: from @andrewhuyton on Twitter
Also notable absentees from the list of estates promising (in a non-binding agreement) not to burn blanket bogs are the Mossdale Estate owned by the van Cutsem family and the Crag Estate in the Peak District. Interesting.
As Guy Shrubsole writes on the Who Owns England? site:
What we need is some citizen science monitoring of grouse moor estates to check whether they’re keeping to their word during the burning season. It’s a daunting task – how do you keep tabs on what happens over half a million acres of upland? – but I hope the revelation of this list, and our evolving map of grouse moor estates, can help.
And let’s be clear. Any instance of an estate going back on its word, and carrying out rotational burning despite its pledge not to, should be further reason for Michael Gove to ban moorland burning outright.