“Research has found that burning peatland degrades habitats, releases carbon emissions, reduces biodiversity and increases flood risk.” Which neatly summarises why yet another council that has grouse moors within its boundaries is turning on the industry. Following recent similar calls by the RSPB and a host of other northern councils (see our Moorland Burning posts), members of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council are to ask the government to introduce a ban on the practice of peatland burning by grouse moor owners.
Burning on peatlands has become an increasingly hot-button topic as estates set more and more fires in their quest to turn ever more Red Grouse into cash. A few shooters have commented below the original article printed in ‘In Your Area’ deriding the decision and warning of wildfires and (apparently without any irony given the lobbying efforts of their industry on behalf of killing wild birds) saying the councillors are just ‘anti-shooting’. Perhaps they missed (or simply ignored) the recent analysis of Government data by the RSPB which showed that “the burning of moorlands is the biggest identified threat to England’s most important places for wildlife, known as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)“. Never mind, of course, the impact on downwind residents, water quality, invertebrates and plants, and our poor old changing climate, which is a threat not only to grouse and grouse shooting but the entire damn planet…
Council calls for ban on the burning of peatlands
Members of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council are to ask the government to introduce a ban on the practice of peatland burning.
A motion calling for the ban, put forward by Councillor Joe Porter, was unanimously supported by councillors at the last full meeting of the district council.
It comes after a fire devastated The Roaches area more than two years ago.
Mr Porter’s motion said: “Peatland occupies around 12 per cent of the land area in the UK and is a natural carbon sponge. Our peatlands are worth around 15 years of UK carbon emissions and are a vital carbon lock. They are the UK’s rainforests and a vital part of addressing climate change.
“Unfortunately, they can currently be developed on, dug up and used for horticulture, or burned. The lack of protection has resulted in many peatland fires in recent years, including the fire at The Roaches in the summer of 2018.
“Research has found that burning peatland degrades habitats, releases carbon emissions, reduces biodiversity and increases flood risk. The burning of peatland is believed to be the most environmentally damaging of this activity.
“Peatlands are an important habitat for plants and wildlife, can store water to prevent flooding and also stores carbon if it is in a healthy state. But when peatland is degraded, drained and burned it releases carbon, worsening climate change.
“As a district council, we call upon the Government to introduce an outright ban on the practice of peatland burning and to ensure the protection of peatlands across the UK for the sake of future generations.
“It would demonstrate the UK’s climate leadership in the run up to next year’s UN climate talks being held in the UK and would show the Prime Minister’s commitment to protecting 30 per cent of the UK’s land for nature.”
Speaking in favour of the motion Councillor Darren Price said: “I fully support this motion. In 2018 there was a fire at The Roaches caused accidentally. Fire does not understand law.
“Peat is burnt for grouse shooting. It is done to encourage more grouse.”
Councillor Andrew Hart is the district council representative on the Peak Park authority.
He said: “There have been a lot of fires in the Peak Park involving peat. The depth of it is the problem and it is very difficult to put it right.”
Council leader, Councillor Sybil Ralphs, congratulated Councillor Porter on the motion.Leslie Jackson, In Your Area, 11 Jan 21