Yorkshire Water grouse moors ignore burning moratorium

47150272102_e04717ecdd_oYorkshire Water’s grouse shooting tenants are ignoring a government moratorium on heather burning, introduced to protect the county’s moorland environment and wildlife.

The utility business has requested grouse shooting operators on its land pledge to stop setting fire to large sections of sensitive moorland, which is performed to engineer optimal breeding habitat for game birds. Burning has been widely condemned by conservation organisations because of the considerable damage it causes to peatland habitat, wildlife and catchment water, which is costly for Yorkshire Water to clean.

Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors – which is lobbying Yorkshire Water to stop leasing moorland for grouse shooting – has today revealed the majority of the water company’s grouse shooting tenants have failed to add their names to the government’s scheme to end burning over blanket bog. Of the eight grouse shoots which rent moorland from Yorkshire Water, five haven’t signed up and of the three which have, one has already been caught out breaching the moratorium by burning over sensitive habitat.

Vulnerable breeding birds – including short-eared owl, dunlin, merlin and hen harrier – may disappear from sections of the uplands forever because they can no longer make the damaged moorland their home. Some of the region’s most iconic landscapes may be irreversibly damaged if Yorkshire Water does not take swift action to protect them, BBYM adds.

Luke Steele, Spokesperson for Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, says:

“Grouse shooting operators are causing considerable damage to the region’s wildlife and environment on Yorkshire Water’s watch. Despite a clear request from Yorkshire Water for its grouse shooting tenants to sign-up to a government moratorium on heather burning, gamekeepers on the company’s land continue to set fire to large sections of heather to increase red grouse populations for the guns.

“The reality is that Yorkshire Water will lack control over what happens on its moors for as long as the company leases them for grouse shooting – even where sensitive habitat is being damaged, vulnerable wildlife driven out and catchment water polluted.

“If Yorkshire Water wants to be recognised as taking its environmental responsibility seriously, then endings its grouse shooting leases it the only course of action which will suffice. By removing the negative impact allowing the practice has on wildlife, habitat and the region Yorkshire Water will truly become the environmental champion it espouses to be.”

Natural England has confirmed this weekend that it is investigating six grouse shooting operators, including two Yorkshire Water tenants, over environmental damage documented during a Friends of the Earth investigation into heather burning.

-ENDS –

Notes for editors:

  • A print-quality image show heather burning on Yorkshire Water’s leased Stanbury Moor on Friday 22 February is enclosed with full permissions granted for re-publication.
  • Yorkshire Water’s grouse shooting tenants which have not signed up to the government moratorium on heather burning are CM Ryder (Hanging Moor, Thruscross), Middlesmoor Estate (moorland to the North and South of Angram & Scar House Reservoir, Nidderdale), Haworth Moor Shooting Syndicate (Haworth Moor, Haworth), Walshaw Moor Estate (Stanbury Moor, Keighley) and RL Heather (Keighley Moor, Keighley).
  • Yorkshire Water’s grouse shooting tenants which have signed up to the government moratorium on heather burning are Higher Platts Shoot (Greenhow, Nidderdale), Wakefield Farms / Dunlin Ltd (Range Moor, Langsett) and John Kennedy (Wessenden Head, Holmfirth). Gamekeepers were photographed setting fire to heather on Range Moor on Monday 28 January 2019.

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