Yorkshire Water is facing a formal investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) over its refusal to disclose the number of red grouse shot on its land.

The investigation has been prompted by an official complaint lodged with the ICO by Wild Moors and the League Against Cruel Sports, after Yorkshire Water failed to comply with an environmental information request seeking the data.

Eleven moors across the county are leased out by the utility business for grouse shooting, with permits issued allowing shooting parties to meet on water catchments to kill game birds for entertainment.

Luke Steele, Director of Wild Moors, said:

“If Yorkshire Water is comfortable with leasing land for grouse shooting then it should be transparent about how many birds are being shot for entertainment with its permission.

“It clearly doesn’t sit comfortably with many of the company’s customers, thousands of whom have already raised formal objections, that the land which Yorkshire Water obtains their drinking water from is leased out as a killing ground.

“We welcome the investigation by the Information Commissioner into whether Yorkshire Water acted legally by refusing to disclose the number of red grouse shot on its land.”

The complaint filed with the ICO is the latest escalation in a high-profile campaign urging Yorkshire Water to stop leasing land for grouse shooting amid widespread damage to wildlife and the environment.

Wild animals, including foxes, stoats, weasels and hare are being killed by trap, snare and guns on the company’s land to ensure large numbers of game birds are available for shooting. Hundreds of bone-breaking traps have been found across the company’s leased moors, many of which are popular with walkers.

Gamekeepers operating on Yorkshire Water land have also burnt large sections of heather moorland to engineer prime breeding habitat for red grouse. Important peatland habitat has also been damaged by burning, driving out native wildlife and damaging blanket bog.

Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

Yorkshire Water’s customers have a right to know exactly what the company they buy their water from is doing with the land it owns and the impact that has on the local environment and ecology.

“It is high time Yorkshire Water ends grouse shooting on its moors. Not only for the sake of the animals and environment, but for the peace of mind of its paying customers.”

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Notes for editors:

  • A full copy of the complaint filed with the Information Commissioner’s Office on Monday, 3 September, is available on request.
  • Yorkshire Water leases eleven sections of moorland for grouse shooting across the county, including Range Moor (near Langsett, South Yorkshire), Wessenden Head & Digley Moor (near Holmfirth, West Yorkshire), Stanbury Moor (near Stanbury, West Yorkshire), Haworth Moor (near Haworth, West Yorkshire), Keighley Moor (near Oakworth, West Yorkshire), Higher Platts (near Greenhow Hill, North Yorkshire) and around Angram and Scar House reservoirs (near Lofthouse, North Yorkshire).
  • Wild Moors and the League Against Cruel Sports are jointly campaigning to end grouse shooting on land owned by Yorkshire Water as part of a wider campaign to end shooting animals for ‘sport’ in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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