Yorkshire MPs take the battle to ban grouse moor burning to Westminster

Three Yorkshire MPs are taking the battle to save the county’s peat moors from being damaged for grouse shooting to Westminster today.

Stephanie Peacock (Shadow Flooding Minister and Barnsley East), Olivia Blake (Sheffield Hallam) and Rachel Maskell (York Central) will tell a debate in Westminster Hall that a promised ban on burning fragile peat moors is long overdue.

Grouse moors set fire to heather to engineer optimal breeding habitat for game birds which are shot for sport, however the controversial practice has been linked to widespread environmental damage.

Environment Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith told Sky News last night that he is convinced that a ban is now necessary to protect the environment.

Olivia Blake, Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, who has tabled the debate, said:

“Moorland burning is responsible for the release of millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere and is causing irreparable damage, drying peat bogs and damaging the biodiversity of our natural environment.

“I’ve called this Westminster Hall debate because the government’s voluntary approach to stopping the burns isn’t working. To tackle the climate emergency, reach our net-zero objectives and protect our environment, it’s crucial we ban the practice of moorland burning completely.”

Almost three quarters of peatlands in England are damaged or degraded, Natural England has revealed, with burning being a key driver.

The Government committed in October 2019 to introduce a new law to end grouse moor burning, but is yet to unveil its time frame.

Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors has compiled more than 600 reports of peat moorlands being set ablaze by grouse shoots across the county since the Government’s pledge was made.

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

“It’s past time to put an end to the burning of peatlands for grouse shooting — a practice which degrades fragile ecosystems, releases climate-altering gasses into the atmosphere and worsens flooding in communities downstream from grouse moors.

“With more than 600 fires set by grouse moors on Yorkshire’s heather hills since the Government pledged a ban in October 2019, it’s time for the promised legislation to finally be brought forward to help save the region’s peatlands from further damage. Every single fire set signals the failure of the Government to deliver on its pledge.”

– ENDS –

Notes for editors:

  • Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors campaigns to free up moorland for conservation from exploitation for grouse shooting. By working with society, companies and government to create change, we secure effective protection for wildlife, habitats and local communities.
  • The debate on banning grouse moor burning will take place in Westminster Hall in the House of Commons today, Wednesday 18 November, from 4.30 – 5.30pm.
  • Research by the University of Leeds and others has found that grouse moor burning degrades peatland habitat, reduces biodiversity and increases flood risk.
  • Broadcast quality footage and print quality photographs of burning are available to download here, with full permission granted for re-publication.