Grouse Moor Campaigners Hail Peak District Decision

© jim jones

Environmental campaigners opposed to driven grouse shooting and the persecution of upland birds of prey have welcomed news that the National Trust is to terminate the lease of one of its Peak District grouse moors following accusations that the shooting tenant was illegally killing raptors.

Red Grouse at Bamford (one of the lucky ones?).  © jim jones
Red Grouse at Bamford (one of the lucky ones?).
© jim jones, Apr 2016

The National Trust has given notice that the current shooting leases at Hope Woodlands and Park Hall in Derbyshire will end in April 2018. The charity said it had taken the decision to exercise a break clause in the lease to end the relationship four years early.

Andy Beer, National Trust's Director for the Midlands, said:

"We have a clear vision for land management and wildlife restoration on the High Peak Moors, which was developed in full consultation with our tenants and other key stakeholders."

"All our tenants have signed up to deliver to the vision and understand their responsibilities. We work very closely with our tenants and support, consult and discuss any issues relating to the plan on a regular basis."

"However, in this case we have decided, after a meeting with the tenant, that we should revoke the lease four years early as it became clear that we could no longer have confidence that they were committed to the delivery of our vision for the land."

"We have given the tenant 22 months' notice and will start the process of looking for a replacement in 2017, when we will be happy to receive applications from partners who can demonstrate how moorland management and shooting can deliver great nature conservation in a way that is compatible with public access."

"We remain committed to the High Peak Moors Vision. As with all our conservation aims, we review and evaluate progress periodically. When considering renewals of individual shooting leases in future we will take into careful account the extent to which our objectives have been met, in particular relating to increasing raptor populations."

The subtext here looks like a strong message to the once-all-powerful grouse shooting industry: abide by the National Trust's conservation agenda on land they own, or go elsewhere.

Covey of grouse at Gun Butress  © Rachel H
Covey of grouse at Gun Butress
© Rachel H, Nov 2010

UKH contacted environmental campaigner and blogger Mark Avery for his reaction to the news. Mark has been particularly vocal in opposition to the practise of driven grouse shooting on Britain's uplands, which many believe to be environmentally disastrous.

"Well done NT!" he said.

"They are moving towards a much more sustainable upland ecology. It's their land, which they hold in trust for us all and it's good to see them taking a firm line with tenants who aren't heading in the same direction. I hope others will follow suit. Water companies should be looking at their upland tenants in the same way."

But what's the big deal, we asked him:

"Driven grouse shooting is based on selling shooting days for thousands of pounds per day where hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Red Grouse are killed for fun" he explained.

"It requires intensive moorland management; burning of heather, drainage, predator control and medication if wild Red Grouse. Too often protected wildlife is killed (poisoned, trapped, shot) including Eagles, Hen Harriers, Peregrines, Badgers etc. Intensive management increases flood risk, water treatment costs, greenhouse gas emissions etc etc etc. It's an unsustainable land use, underpinned by wildlife crime, which benefits the few at the expense of the many."

For more from Mark Avery see:

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10 Jun, 2016
A small step in the right direction. A brave thing for them to do would be to look for an alternative management NOT including shooting, as the management of grouse moors is inherently problematic from a conservation and landscape perspective, even if it's being done "correctly"
10 Jun, 2016
Excellent news and definitely a step in the right direction. The management of heather moorland for grouse shooting is completely incompatible with conservstion. What's more infuriating is that some of the wealthiest people in the country receive £56 a hectare to drain, slash and burn the moorland to keep it looking the way it does. In my area the next target group of landowners should be Yorkshire Water who lease the shooting rights to syndicates.
10 Jun, 2016
This isn't intended to be a joke or provocative question, but without 'management' by shooting parties or sheep what would 'virgin' moorland look like?
10 Jun, 2016
Well, if we were to stop the process of agricultural grazing and the intensive micro-management of heather, we would over time see more and more tree/saplings and dwarf shrubs appear, which in turn would give way to the re-establishment of native woodland across the moors. A canopy would then lead to a decline in heather and bracken coverage and the very slow development of a 'traditional' forest floor. This would however take a very long time but is the basic idea behind the natural direction the landscape would take. To put it simply, there'd be a bit more diversity!
11 Jun, 2016
Small step in the right direction.
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