2nd November 2016
A Westminster Hall debate on grouse shooting took place on October 31st in response to two petitions; one to protect driven grouse shooting and one to ban it. The three hour debate was very well attended and the Moorland Association would like to thank all those MPs who spoke or intervened in the debate. Clearly many had put a considerable amount of time and effort into researching the topic, reading the written submissions and listening to their constituents on all their views. Some had even visiting moorland managed for red grouse to better understand the facts of this complex subject.
There was good consensus over the exceptional quality of the landscape and conservation importance of this land, which has been managed for grouse over the last two hundred years and because of this management, attracted many kinds of designation. Land manager choices have favoured conserving globally rare habitats and with it a wide range of important birds, many of which are struggling in the rest of the UK.
Most spoke of the economic and cultural importance of driven grouse shooting to remote upland communities and pointed out important activities that would be lost should a ban or restrictions be imposed. Vegetation management like clearing bracken and scrub encroachment, prevention and mitigation for devastating wildfire and tick control were important to all who live, work and visit the fells.
Areas where conservation improvements can be made are already underway with significant progress being made where land managers, conservationists and academics are working together to find solutions. MPs had witnessed techniques to help the rewetting of deep peat, which will help filter drinking water for free, lock-up more carbon and slow water run- off. These are being developed and implemented through collaboration, pioneering trials and innovative ideas.
The Hen Harrier Recovery Plan was wholeheartedly supported by the Minister, Therese Coffey as the right way ahead to manage conflict and stated that it needed time to be fully implemented. Everyone condemned wildlife crime and agreed perpetrators should feel the full force of the law.
The great majority of the MPs who spoke in the debate opposed a ban on driven grouse shooting. They recognised that a ban would result in the loss of motivation to conserve this unique and treasured landscape and its communities. Proposals from the RSPB on further regulation of moorland management like licensing of driven grouse shoots and the introduction of vicarious liability for employers were considered unlikely to produce any tangible benefits.
Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association said: “The landmark debate was heartening for all those associated with driven grouse shooting who work so hard in the uplands. They are justifiably proud of the conservation legacy they not only continue to safeguard but are also working to improve. Listening to the perspectives of others is important and with the help of evolving understanding, science and practical know-how, I have no doubt that harnessing the innate cultural motivation of land managers is the most powerful tool we have to seek further conservation successes and is the right way ahead.”
You can watch the debate here: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/0b841a46-eb3d-44b3-83b7-9500482b6d92?in=16:29:59
You can read the transcript here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-10-31/debates/06472E95-10EC-49A0-BF93-84CAD2BE4191/DrivenGrouseShooting