Yorkshire Wildlife Trust – which heads the Yorkshire Peat Partnership with Yorkshire Water in a bid to restore some of the region’s most vulnerable upland habitats – has raised concerns with the utility business about the considerable negative impact practices fundamental to its grouse shooting leases are having on wildlife, environment and water quality.
In a statement to Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, YWT Chief Executive Rob Stoneman spelt out the conservation organisation’s position:
“As part of our efforts to engage with Yorkshire Water, we have made it very clear that the continuation of burning in particular on blanket bog and other degrading land-use is completely unacceptable.
“Yorkshire Water own land for the purpose of providing easy to treat raw water for drinking water. Currently, that land is largely over-grazed and burnt for grouse shooting. Both practices cause water pollution that degraded the quality of raw water at great cost to Yorkshire Water.
“We think Yorkshire Water should move much quicker in resolving these issues, including if necessary bringing shooting leases to a close if they are unable to stop burning.”
Large sections of threatened peatland habitat – including Sites of Special Scientific Interest – have already been damaged to further grouse shooting, an investigation released into five randomly-chosen Yorkshire Water moors leased for the practice revealed this week. In some cases burning has been conducted unlawfully across water courses and gullies, polluting and eroding catchments feeding water into Yorkshire Water’s reservoirs and harming habitat necessary for nesting birds of prey.
Drainage and grouse shooting butts have also been dug into rare blanket bog and roadways carved into the hillside to convey shooting parties, leaving sensitive habitat degraded and exposed to the elements.
Campaigners have warned this damage to internationally-important moorland is set to increase with the burning season now getting underway.