Labour demands grouse shooting review

| 12th August 2019
Grouse moors cover around 550,000 acres of land in in England and Scotland. The four-month long shooting season starts on Monday.

For too long the Tories have bent the knee to land owners and it's our environment and our people who pay the price.

Labour is calling for a review of grouse shooting amid warnings it is causes substantial environmental damage to important natural habitats.

With the start of the four-month long shooting season on Monday - the so-called Glorious Twelfth - the party said consideration should be given to "viable alternatives" such as simulated shooting or wildlife tourism.

The move threatens to put the party on a collision course with landowners who argue that shooting creates valuable employment opportunities while helping to protect the environment.

Moors

Grouse moors cover around 550,000 acres of land in in England and Scotland.

However, Labour said that the process of draining the land in preparation for the shooting season destroyed "huge swathes" of plant life while also killing large numbers of animals.

Moors were often burned, increasing the likelihood of both wildfires and flooding while increasing carbon emissions and dramatically reducing their future capacity to absorb carbon.

At the same time, the party said that species such hen harriers - which feed on grouse chicks - and mountain hares were often illegally culled.

But despite such damage, Labour said that the 10 largest English grouse moors received a total of £3 million in annual farm subsidies.

Biodiverse

Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said: "The costs of grouse shooting on our environment and wildlife needs to be to properly weighed up against the benefit of land owners profiting from shooting parties.

"For too long the Tories have bent the knee to land owners and it's our environment and our people who pay the price.

"There are viable alternatives to grouse shooting such as simulated shooting and wildlife tourism. The time has come for a proper review into the practice."

However Duncan Thomas, a regional director at the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said he was confident any review would demonstrate the benefits of a well-run grouse moor.

"Grouse moors are biodiverse and the shoots they support create vital employment in isolated rural areas supporting communities," he told The Daily Telegraph.

Heather

"Effective heather management including burning and cutting creates amazing habitat and of course reduces the fuel load and risk of wildfire."

Officials said that protecting the moorland environment was a "priority" for the Government, as was the protection of the hen harrier.

The birds were protected from illegal killing under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Government had strong penalties in place for offences committed against birds of prey.

Ministers were said to be continuing to work closely with landowners, tenant farmers and sporting interests to sign up to voluntary agreements, including a commitment to stop the rotational burning of heather on bog land.

This Author

Gavin Cordon is the PA Whitehall editor. Image: FieldsportsChannel TV
 

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