Campaigning organisations Wild Moors and the League Against Cruel Sports have welcomed a commitment from Yorkshire Water to change the way it manages its land.

Instead of automatically renewing the leases for grouse shooting, the utility company – which is Yorkshire’s largest landowner – will instead review each one to decide if grouse shooting will be allowed to continue.

The announcement is in direct response to a high-profile campaign by Wild Moors and the League urging the company to terminate its 11 grouse shooting leases.

Luke Steele, Executive Director of Wild Moors, said:

“We strongly welcome Yorkshire Water tightening up the rules on grouse shooting following wildlife persecution and environmental damage on some of the county’s most treasured moorlands.

“Customer pressure combined with evidence captured by our investigators on Yorkshire Water land has focused the company’s mind on making urgent changes to conserve wildlife, habitat and benefit local communities.

“Whilst this isn’t yet the end of grouse shooting and the problems the practice brings, the ball has moved one significant step closer to that goal.”

Under the new arrangements being implemented by Yorkshire Water, stricter contractual obligations will be placed on grouse shooting tenants in the interim.

A zero-tolerance approach will be taken to wildlife crime where grouse shooting leases can be ended if protected wildlife is interfered with. This follows a tawny owl being found shot and stuffed in a wall on the company’s Wessenden Head & Digley Moor.

Routine burning will be ended in line with scientific evidence demonstrating the practice  – which is used to engineer game bird breeding habitat – degrades peatland, contributes to flooding, pollutes catchment water and drives out sensitive breeding birds. This follows a large section of blanket bog being burnt on Stanbury Moor in February.

Grouse shooting tenants will also be required to restore vast swathes of peatland degraded through harmful game bird management practices, such as burning, which risk conservation designations of the sites. This follows habitat changing from important blanket bog to low-quality heathland on Yorkshire Water’s leases moors at Scar House and Angram Reservoirs.

Andy Knott, CEO of the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Yorkshire Water should be commended for taking this first big step in ensuring the impact of grouse shooting is minimised, but we will continue our campaign to urge the company, and other landowners, to stop shooting for ‘sport’ for good.”

Wild Moors and the League have vowed to continue campaigning until grouse shooting is ended on Yorkshire Water’s moors.


Notes for editors:

  • Yorkshire Water’s new policy on grouse shooting can be found here.
  • Yorkshire Water leases eleven sections of land for grouse shooting including Angram and Scar House Moors (Nidderdale, North Yorkshire), Higher Platts (Greenhow, North Yorkshire), Keighley Moor (Oxenhope, West Yorkshire), Haworth Moor (Haworth, West Yorkshire), Stanbury Moor (Stanbury, West Yorkshire), Baitings, Turley Holes & Higher House Moors (Calderdale, West Yorkshire), Wessenden Head & Digley Moor (Holmfirth, West Yorkshire) and Range Moor (Langsett, South Yorkshire).

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