The utility business, which is launching an imminent bid to replace its two largest shareholders, has been contacted by over 15,000 members of the public during the summer calling on them to stop leasing land for grouse shooting.
In a letter sent to Deutsche Bank and Corsair Capital – which own a 55 per cent stake of Yorkshire Water – Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors and the League Against Cruel Sports warn that the utility company’s reputation is being considerably harmed by the wildlife and environmental damage intrinsic to grouse shooting. Any decision by Yorkshire Water to prolong the practice could also have a negative impact on investments, the letter concludes.
Yorkshire Water presently leases out eleven sections of moorland for grouse shooting, where tenants are permitted to trap and kill native wildlife – including stoats, weasels, foxes, crows and mountain hare – to preserve game birds for shooting parties. Heather is also burnt to provide for large numbers of red grouse, a practice which damages sensitive peatland habitat and causes it to not support many threatened breeding bird populations. Burning also contributes to flooding in valleys below grouse moors, an increase in carbon emissions and the pollution of catchment water, which is costly for the utility company to clean.
Luke Steele, Spokesperson for Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, says:
“Modern business means being environmentally and socially responsible. Yet Yorkshire Water, which brands itself as being an industry-leader in environmental protection, is entering a second attempt at investor sell-offs with grouse shooting leases – and the intrinsic damage to wildlife and habitat – toxifying its public image.
“If Yorkshire Water wants to be recognised as taking its environmental responsibilities seriously, then ending its grouse shooting leases is the only course of action that will suffice. By removing the negative impact the practice has on wildlife and habitat, Yorkshire Water will truly become the environmental champion it espouses to be. The company will also reap the business benefits which come as a result.”
Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, says:
“Yorkshire Water must choose between enhancing wildlife and the environment or allowing it to be damaged by grouse shooting – even more so as the toxic association with shooting birds for ‘sport’ damaged the company’s reputation ahead of its stakeholder sell-off. The reality is that conservation and grouse shooting are inherently conflicting, with native wild animals killed and sensitive habitat burnt to provide large numbers of game birds for the guns. These practices also harm financial returns, with Yorkshire Water left to pick up the hefty bill for cleaning up polluted catchment water
“We strongly urge Yorkshire Water to do the right thing by ending its grouse shooting leases. Investors and customers would expect nothing less from a company which purports to be a leader in wildlife and environmental protection, particularly when the harm the practice is causing to the company’s reputation is blindingly obvious.”
– ENDS –