In what is starting to look like a flood (one, ironically, caused just like the downstream floods in eg Hebden Bridge by gamekeepers), yet another council in northern England has backed plans to ban the burn – the routine destruction of the uplands to engineer habitats to allow shooters to kill more grouse.
Kirklees, a local government district of West Yorkshire including Huddersfield and Meltham on the edge of the Peak District ‘national park’ (a notorious raptor persecution hotspot), joins Wakefield, Sheffield, York, Doncaster and Calderdale Councils (the Calder Valley is repeatedly flooded by water pouring off the moors above it), in calling for a ban.
The Council’s decision appears to have been made partly as a result of a major moorland fire earlier this year within their district. In March a fire set by gamekeepers burned through a large area of Meltham Moor, which is managed by the Meltham Shooting Club. At the time West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service criticised landowners after 20 engines and 100 firefighters had to respond and ordered grouse moors in the area to stop burning “with immediate effect.”
The call for a ban comes as the grouse moor burning ‘season’ opens again, with a considerable area of grouse moors in the Wessenden Valley expected to begin being set on fire by shoots. Yesterday the RSPB again renewed its call for peatland burning to stop to protect scarce habitats and wildlife. Natural England revealed recently that almost three-quarters of peatlands in England are already damaged or degraded, with burning being a key driver.
Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors welcomes Kirklees Council’s backing to stop the practice
An end to heather burning to save the region’s peat moors from being damaged for grouse shooting is in sight after Kirklees Council said it was concerned about the practice.
It has called for the practice, which is performed by shoot operators to engineer game bird-breeding habitat, to stop to help protect the environment.
The plea comes as the grouse moor burning season opens today, 1 October — with a considerable area of grouse moors in the Wessenden Valley expected to begin being set on fire by shoots.
Clr Rob Walker, Cabinet Member for Environment and Culture, said: “While Kirklees Council do not own any moorland used for grouse shooting I am concerned about the damage done to biodiversity and the regeneration of healthy peat bogs by the practice of burning heather to promote the commercial rearing of grouse.
“I believe in working with land managers to promote more sustainable techniques that will enrich our countryside.”
Peatlands, a threatened moorland habitat, are one of the UK’s biggest carbon stores, locking up millions of tonnes of climate-altering gasses.
However, when burning is performed the sensitive habitats are damaged, leading to large amounts of carbon being released into the atmosphere.
Luke Steele, spokesman for Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, said: “It’s past time to put an end to the burning of threatened peatlands for grouse shooting — a practice which degrades fragile ecosystems, releases climate-altering gasses into the atmosphere and worsens flooding in communities downstream from grouse moors.
“With burning continuing on grouse moors across Yorkshire, we commend Kirklees Council for giving its support for an end to burning to help save the region’s peatlands from further damage.”Yorkshire Live, 01 Oct 2020
- Header image: A TV crew broadcasts from a road engulfed in fire and smoke on Marsden Moor. Image copyright SWNS.