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12th October 2021

The Moorland Association, which represents grouse moor owners in England, issued the following statement today in the wake of reports alleging that government legislation which restricts heather burning on deep peat may be being breached.

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “The claims that are being made today about alleged breaches of government legislation do not square with the information we have from our membership and Natural England which investigates such matters. Natural England have a set protocol for investigating any problems and our understanding is there are no investigations actively under way.

“Heather burning is a perfectly legal and regulated land management tool. Burning is permitted between October and April on shallow peat and in very exceptional circumstances on deeper peat. Burning is only undertaken in the right place, at the right time and for the right reason. Controlled burning does not damage peatland as the technique burns the heather but not the peat below it. Current scientific evidence that has been provided to government demonstrates that burning can have positive longer-term effects on carbon capture. It should also be noted that government has recognised that emissions from English upland peatlands managed for red grouse amount to no more than 2% whereas 86% of emissions are from lowland peatlands.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that any legislation has been contravened to date nor evidence that burning is being carried out to anything but best practice standards. Regulation of activities on this habitat is very complex. Moor owners are committed to playing their part in tackling climate change and have already achieved significant gains towards climate change targets in terms of peatland restoration.”


Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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