Wuthering Moors 76 – more moor burning

Michael Gove has asked moorland owners to be good boys (and girls – although all the landowners in the room at the time were actually men) and to stop damaging blanket bogs through burning  them.  Burning is carried out so that men (and a few women) can shoot lots of Red Grouse for fun as it creates the perfect habitat for this gamebird (well, until they are shot, of course).

Many grouse shooting estates signed up to a voluntary agreement in order to help the Secretary of State for the Environment to re-assure the European Commission that he was getting a grip on the situation, and that the Commission should hold back from infraction proceedings against Defra for failing to implement the Habitats Directive.

Ironically the estate whose behaviour kicked off a failed legal case from Natural England in 2011, which itself triggered complaints from local residents and the RSPB to the European Commission, and which has led to Defra wanting to be seen to do something on this subject is the Walshaw Moor Estate in West Yorkshire.

Walshaw Moor had not, and as far as I know has not, signed up to the rather worthless voluntary agreements that other estates have signed.

So it comes as no surprise that burning of blanket bog habitat continues this burning season on the hills above Hebden Bridge.

Screenshot from Defra MAGIC system showing area of blanket bog (buff shading) and the area being burned on Monday (red star) pictured above and below.

It is to be hoped that the European Commission isn’t so foolish as to believe that Defra is addressing this issue properly.

There are three levels of inadequacy in the Defra approach:

  1. not all estates have signed the voluntary agreement – Walshaw Moor has not signed it – and so damaging burning continues (as documented in these images)
  2. there is evidence that even some estates who have signed up to the voluntary agreement are not sticking to it – Natural England should be checking these and reporting back to Defra (and the European Commission should be aware that a list of estates owners from Defra does not necessarily reflect what is happening on the ground)
  3. the formal agreements which NE is seeking to agree with individual estates to replace the voluntary agreements are riddled with loopholes which will allow damaging burning to continue (eg the one for Walshaw Moor here, and see here too)

Apart from being useless, Defra’s approach is perfect.

Defra appears to be completely in thrall to grouse moor interests.  Not only does Defra not get a grip of habitat damage to protected wildlife sites by this small group of game-shooters but nor do they get a grip on wildlife crime against protected wildlife species by this same small group of shooting interests (see blog at 6pm this evening).

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5 Replies to “Wuthering Moors 76 – more moor burning”

  1. looks like flagrant blanket bog burning to me, signed up or not this is habitat vandalism of the sort the grouse shooting cabal has been getting away with for a very long time. Yes the evils of it are more recently described but whatever we know now this is that well known salute of two fingers to us all. Report it!!!! I'd be tempted to send a report with pictures to the EU too. Lets at least try to put a cat amongst grouse shootings pigeons!

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  2. The burning of Walshaw Moor began this year on 1st October (the first legal date for burning) so I think that gives you an idea of how keen the estate is on this environmentally destructive practice.It's really uplifting to know that burns all over our uplands are being monitored,photographed and reported so that all the evidence can be documented.Then in the future,no one can turn around and claim that these things were not known about at the time so no one can use that as an excuse for doing nothing.
    In the future I have no doubt people will look back and ask 'how on earth was this allowed to happen'.We are the generation who are watching it happen and some of us are trying to do something to stop it.

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    1. I think that future generations will look back and know precisely why "this was allowed to happen" and who was responsible.

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  3. If People are out and about seeing any burning off on the Moors,just take a few pictures if you can with a rough idea of where abouts,,an approximate grid reference would be great.All this evidence is slowly building up.Keep the Pressure on.We aren't going away.

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  4. The planning applications for the Walshaw track have been re-validated as of Friday 2 November, for both Pendle and Calderdale. Not had a chance to look any further into these yet.

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