Wakefield Council’s leadership has joined the battle to save the county’s peat moors from being damaged for grouse shooting.

The local authority’s leadership has called on the government to urgently deliver a ban on moorland burning, an ecologically-destructive practice that involves shoot operators setting fire to heather to engineer habitat for grouse, which are shot for sport.

The plea comes just weeks ahead of the grouse shooting season opening on the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ of August, although burning does not start again until October. Campaigners believe any future burning can be stopped by government intervention, with Defra having already committed to legislation.

Cllr Jack Hemingway, Cabinet Member for Climate Change at Wakefield Council, said:

“Wakefield Council supports a ban on the burning of peatland on grouse moors.

“We believe it is the right thing to do from a moral and environmental standpoint. Clearly this practice is damaging for the moorland environment and also has a negative impact on flood risk for communities down river here in Wakefield.

“With the clock counting down to the next burning season in October, we strongly urge the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to commit to delivering on this Government’s promise to ban grouse moor burning to ensure our local communities, wildlife and the environment are protected from any further harm.”

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

During the last burning season, from October to April, Wild Moors compiled more than 550 reports of peat moorlands being burnt across the county.This is despite assurances given by grouse moors to the government that the practice would be halted, with 11 moors that had pledged to stop being discovered continuing.

Subsequently, the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the government on environmental action, recommended the practice be banned to protect peatlands from further damage.

Luke Steele, Director of Wild Moors, said:

“It’s past time to put an end to the burning of rare 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.

“We strongly welcome the support of Wakefield Council’s Leadership for a ban on grouse moor burning and urge the Government to make good on its promise to end the environmentally-damaging practice.”

– ENDS –

Notes for editors:

  • Wild 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.
  • 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 from the most recent season are available to download here, with full permission granted for re-publication.

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