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Grouse moor burning season was prematurely ended today after industry bodies requested members stop the practice.

It follows more than 200 hectares of rare blanket bog being damaged in a major blaze on Meltham Moor, West Yorkshire, on Monday when planned grouse moor burning got out of control. Such burning is meant to remove old heather and promote younger, more nutritious shoots for the grouse, which are then shot for sport.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service criticised landowners after 20 engines and 100 firefighters had to respond and ordered grouse moors in the area to stop burning “with immediate effect.”

The call was echoed by Peak District National Park, North York Moors National Park, Forest of Bowland AONB, the National Fire Chief’s Council, National Trust, United Utilities and Yorkshire Water.

Luke Steele, Director of Wild Moors, said:

“It speaks volumes that it has taken grouse shoot operators sparking a mile-long fire on Meltham Moor during a national emergency to persuade the Moorland Association to call off the burning season.

“Burning moorland on sensitive peatland degrades ecosystems, releases climate-altering gasses into the atmosphere and worsens flooding and wildfire risk.

“With more than 550 burning incidents recorded on Yorkshire’s moors since the season opened in October, it’s time for the government to ensure the burning season now ending is the last.

Moorland burning is condemned by environmentalists and the Environment Minister, Zac Goldsmith, has promised to put an end to grouse moor burning with a new law. He said legislation is necessary because a voluntary approach had not worked.

The Committee on Climate Change, which advises the government on environmental issues, has recommended legislation outlawing grouse moor burning is introduced within the year.

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