Press release from Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire Moors

Government urged to deliver moorland burning ban following Yorkshire floods

Environment campaigners are warning that Yorkshire’s moors are no longer acting as effective flood barriers for the region following decades of burning for grouse shooting.

It comes as Yorkshire counts the cost of the third major floods to have hit the region in seven months, with torrents of rainfall having flowed from the Pennine Hills into communities over the weekend.

Healthy moorland acts as a natural water store by absorbing vast quantities of rainfall in the peatland. However, heather burning — a practice used by grouse moors to engineer game bird breeding habitat — has severely damaged the soils and vegetation, leaving them unable to perform this function.

The current burning season — which lasts from October to April — could be the last time that moorland burning is legal as the government has pledged to ban the practice and is developing legislation to stop it.

Luke Steele, Spokesperson for Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, said:

There is only one way to manage moorland for grouse shooting and that’s through burning away and damaging precious peatland habitat at the expense of our region’s natural flood barrier.

Efforts by the government to reign in grouse moor burning have failed to deliver a meaningful results for our region’s communities most at risk of flooding, with large fires continuing to be set on the moors above Airedale and Calderdale only last week.

The government must make good on its promise to end grouse moor burning to ensure our region’s peatlands are protected and natural flood barrier restored.
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Zac Goldsmith, minister for the environment, has said voluntary initiatives to prevent burning have failed, and tweeted last month: “One way or another this needs to stop.

There has been no timeframe published for when the government will introduce legislation, although the Committee on Climate Change, which advises Westminster on environmental matters, has recommended that it should be done within the year.

Despite this, evidence captured by moorland monitors in Airedale and Calderdale (available here) shows large-scale heather burning continuing just days before flooding hit the valleys, further demonstrating that voluntary agreements continue to fail.

Luke Steele adds:

Despite the government making clear that grouse moor burning has to end to restore Yorkshire’s peatland flood barrier there has been no reflection of this on the ground. It is clear that legislation is desperately needed.‘.

– ENDS –

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31 Replies to “Press release from Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire Moors”

  1. I think the link about the Government's proposed policy position statement is this:

    28 October 2019
    Zac Goldsmith, Minister for DEFRA

    "I will move on, briefly, to peat, which was raised by almost all hon. Members, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes). Peat, including blanket bogs and peat soils under agriculture, acts as the UK’s largest terrestrial carbon store. When peatlands are working and healthy, they sequester carbon, nurture wildlife, act as water regulators and contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Some 86% of peatland emissions come from lowland peat in agricultural use. This year, we launched a lowland agricultural peat taskforce that will deliver recommendations for a new, more sustainable future for agriculture on lowland peat in England.

    Several hon. Members talked about the problem of burning peatlands. There is no doubt that they are right; the Government share that view. There has been an attempt, through voluntary initiatives, to scale back—to reduce and eventually eliminate—the burning of fragile and important peat ecosystems, but that has not proven 100% successful as had been hoped. We are developing a legislative response to the problem and we will come back to the House in due course with our plans. There is no disagreement with the hon. Members who have spoken today about the need to address the issue, but we have to do that through legislation, because the alternative simply has not worked.​

    We are funding the restoration of more than 6,000 hectares of degraded peatland, much of it in the uplands, and we are allocating £10 million to 62 sites across England. We will publish a peat strategy for England that sets out a vision to reverse the decline in England’s peatlands and peat soils."

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  2. Zaccy's tweet is what we used to call a WOM file. That is, for those without dark humour, Write Only Memory file. It isn't to be acted on, or read, or reviewed. It looks good when written, but it has no purpose other than to look good when written. That is the Tories all over, all spin and no substance or accountability. They deliver only for their mates, not for the public.

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  3. Surely "Rein in" from horses not "Reign in" from Royalty?
    One could argue that the government and its shooting pals does reign in this situation as they are still burning .
    The shooting fraternity's only argument seems to be that if no winter burns were carried out then there would be summer fires that would do more damage.
    Is there any truth in that?
    Also does walk up grouse shooting require burning (there is a natural cycle of heather growth) or just less burning.
    There definitely needs to be changes in the uplands but is there no compromise that would please and displease all parties?

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    1. There argument against burning because it removes fire risk is bogus . Many estates now flail cut around the heather to be burnt using a horizontal chain flail and 4 wheel drive tractor to stop the fire spreading, it would be just as easy to use said equipment to cut fire breaks in the heather to stop any summer fire spreading far. Rotational burning is probably not much older than DGS and in its intensive form much, much younger. Walked up shooting requires/ takes place at lower grouse densities so it certainly doesn't require the current levels of burning. However if all our moorlands were rewetted and allowed to regenerate trees in places it would become more diverse and shooting of the Scandinavian type would eventually replace walked up.
      My own view is the same as Random 22 that the words of Goldsmith will be submerged in the protests from the like of Amanda Anderson of Moorland Association, she is after all the font of all knowledge about our uplands ( NOT!)

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  4. Gary

    In the area I live in the estates seem to burn strips but they cut a wide strip around the heather burning area presumably to act as a fire break. The heather is cut almost to ground level and the shredding of the heather is massive. Clearly, the heather could simply be 'trimmed' as the heather grows back but, tbh, I don't know why they feel they must burn strips of heather as well as cut.

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  5. It's said you can judge someone by the company they keep. Luke Steele is [Mark writes: section of comment deleted on grounds of taste and my uncertainty of their truth]. Is that really someone you want to be associated with Mark?

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    1. Stig - it’s a press release reproduced verbatim - it’s reporting not my opinion.

      And since you comment here anonymously you might be an axe murderer yourself for all I know.

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    2. "Deleted on the grounds of taste"? Is [Short passage deleted here] somehow in bad taste? You might be uncertain of the truth Mark but it is all verifiable and simple to do so. I assume you know how to use Google? (other search engines are available!).
      [Larger passage deleted here. Mark writes: I have been careful not to mention previous and spent convictions here. This has applied to animal welfare/rights activists and fox hunting activists alike. This is through a wish to be kind and also being aware of the potential relevance of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.].
      And, just so you know, I don't own an axe.

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      1. Stig - I must believe you when you say you don’t own an axe although your anonymous status removes any possibility of checking. Presumably though, you could borrow an axe, or hire one, if you had what you thought was an urgent need.

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      2. Stig objects to the idea s/he owns an axe, not the being a murderer part. Hmmmm, interesting and telling.

        [and also, joking, btw]

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      3. Mark, you seem very concerned about ‘taste’ [Small passage deleted] Yet, you allow other commentators to call gamekeepers/Guns 'the tweed disease' or 'criminals'. Even Zac Goldsmith was labelled an 'obnoxious racist'. And I really don't need to list the abuse aimed at the Moorland Association, Countryside Alliance and others in comments. Is that because [Small passage deleted here] a practice which you share a dislike of? If I call Tim Bonner or Amanda Anderson names, is that ok? More to your 'taste'?

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        1. Stig - I wish everybody was nice and polite. You are ignoring the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. If you want to be rude about Tim Bonner I will read your comment carefully and consider it. I think this little chat has now run its course, thank you.

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          1. I'm well aware of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act Mark - I've been publishing stories/articles for more than 30 years. You are the one hiding behind it.

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          2. Stig - thanks for the info on yourself although, if you don’t mind, I’ll treat that with some scepticism. But in your exalted position of alleged knowledge and experience you must cut me some slack as being an ingenu (m) in this area. I’m not hiding behind anything - but you are.

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          3. Speaking of labels/names, it's highly amusing that those who enjoy abusing wild animals for fun often refer to themselves as "guns". Do they really think the term adds some amount of glamour or credibilty to such cowardly activity? After all, why don't real sportsmen/women such as footballers refer to themselves as "feet", or golfers as "clubs"? Why not call tennis players "racquets", or snooker players "cues"?

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        2. The fact that Mark, on his own blog, allows anybody to comment without using their own name is a privilege. A privilege which you are abusing.

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          1. Paul, it is a privilege. Which is why I am using it. Asking questions is hardly 'abusing' it. I've not insulted anyone nor have I used bad language.

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  6. Upland management needs to result in carbon sequestration, increased biodiversity and flood prevention. All 3 of these are now emergencies and burning is bad for all 3. Burning dries out and oxidises peat, releasing CO2 and promoting a monoculture of heather. Many burnt areas are devoid of vegetation - common sense tells us water will stream down these slopes. Burning damages or destroys mosses - these won't be soaking up water either. And then we breathe in all that smoke. About time it stopped.

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  7. Treat it will all the scepticism you like Mark. I've no need to make things up. Started training in 87', fully qualified senior journalist (and accredited as such - I can even sign passport applications!) by 87. Latest work published was this week. During that time the job has taken me all round Europe, to America, Asia & Africa. Quite proud of it (or is that my over-active imagination?)

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  8. You must be very happy. In which case, you would understand why I'm concerned you would print verbatim a press release from Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire Moors without letting your readers know who they are? Is it a charity? Is there a membership? A committee? Chairman? Secretary? Treasurer? You're happy to criticise newspapers/radio shows etc for their content and not being questioning enough while happily reprinting anything you like without context because it suits your agenda.

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    1. Stig - you seem to have lost control of the car - maybe a breathalyser is needed.

      Exaggeration is fun but a press release on moorland burning is hardly irrelevant to the interests of this blog.
      I often feature news statements from the likes of the laughable Moorland Association you must admit - even tgough they are never sent to me.
      Now, blow into this bag, please, sir.

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  9. Mark, you certainly do. And I know the content of the press release is relevant. But are Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire Moors relevant? Could you explain to your blog readers who they are? Can I become a member?

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    1. Stig - so you agree that what they say is relevant to this blog and you have demonstrated that you are more interested in who they are.
      The website on the press release is this one which you might find useful https://stoptheshoot.com/

      I don’t know whether you can become a member but I’m guessing you don’t want to be. You can’t be a member of DEFRA or of Wild Justice either, yet their views are sometimes reported on this blog too.

      Have you woken up this morning feeling less grumpy?

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    2. I’ve followed them for a while and they do great work with covering the continued degradation of our uplands, specifically in relation to driven grouse shooting. You, on the other hand, have offered up nothing accept for appeals to authority about your own credentials, without either contesting their points or citing any of your own published work. Your comments come across as someone who is desperately trying to justify an objectively unsustainable form of land management, hence why you felt the need to deflect and personalise. You’re essentially trying to use the tired old tactics of rural lobby groups, which is why nobody can take you seriously.

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