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Letter to The Guardian in response to Guy Shrubsole’s attack on landowners

20th June 2024

The following letter for publication has been sent to The Guardian by Andrew Gilruth, Chief Executive of the Moorland Association.


Natural England’s policies have proven to be a disaster on its own nature reserves, so Guy Shrubsole is wrong to suggest this government watchdog is beyond scrutiny (Sunak’s government has almost destroyed Natural England – just for doing its job, 19 June).

For nearly twenty years Natural England has directly managed 114 national nature reserves, yet its own staff have assessed that only 47% of their sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) are in ‘favourable condition’. Either Natural England’s land management policies are not fit for purpose, or its assessment criteria are inadequate. In these circumstances it is right to question why we are allowing its 3,000 public servants to dictate how others should manage their land.

The Labour party created Natural England; it may soon have to fix it.


The Choir With No Name performing at the Ainsdale Sand Dunes NNR Festival event in 2022 Credit: Natural England



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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