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Management of local moorlands

From George Murphy

Saturday, 16 June 2012

I wondered if your readers with a greater understanding of green issues noticed the article on the despoliation of Walshaw Moor in the Guardian (7th June)? As there is some repetition of old place names I wonder if this is the former Savile Estate above Hardcastle Crags?

George Monbiot writes about a grouse estate owned by a retail tycoon where staff have been burning off blanket bog. These are habitats of special scientific interest in the Pennines, but some landowners have been burning them off to improve grouse shooting. This makes the habitat less suitable for other species. The bog lies on top of peat and according to the Commission of Inquiry on UK Peatlands this causes massive escapes of CO2 equivalents into the atmosphere.

Monbiot is angry that Natural England have backed off a legal challenge to the activities on the Walshaw estate and its Vital England document has been withdrawn because of oppositon from land managers in the uplands. We give a £3.6 billion annual subsidy to farmers and large landowners and Monbiot believes they should act on behalf of taxpayers by protecting the environment.

I hope there are some naturalists out there, who know about local landownership who might be able to comment. If not - apologies for a dead thread!

From Graham Ramsden

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The land mentioned is indeed the former Saville Estate which was acquired several years ago by Richard Bannister who owns Boundary Mill and Coniston Hall Hotel in the Yorkshire Dales in addition to other sporting estates.

From Andrew B

Monday, 18 June 2012

I found this statement (a few months old) on Natural Englands website.

9 March 2012

Natural England and Walshaw Moor Estate Ltd released the following statement today, confirming that they have now resolved their dispute regarding management activities at Walshaw Moor in the Pennines.

"Walshaw Moor Estate Ltd and Natural England are pleased to confirm that they have resolved their ongoing dispute regarding management activities conducted on the Moor, and confirm that they have entered into a new management regime which is considered beneficial to the environment and biodiversity of the Moor as well as the economic interests of the Estate.

Walshaw Moor Estate Ltd and Natural England look forward to working together in a constructive partnership to further the interests of both conservation and the Estate, to the parties' mutual benefit, and in the public interest."

I don't really see an issue. The moorland heather growth has always been controlled for as long as I can remember- not just where shooting takes place but all over. Why should this stop now? Live and let live.

From Jim Creak

Sunday, 24 June 2012

There is a misunderstanding that all uplands should be burned and that is not true. Walshaw Moor is a blanket bog habitat, a type which has never been typically burned for grouse. It is only in recent years that the tradirionally burned areas on thin soils have extended to burning this climax and internationally rare ecosystem. Burning destroys the ability for this habitat to form sphagnum peat which soaks up rainfall and protects your homes from the floods we have just experienced.

If you are in any doubt as to the vandalism that is occurring above your heads on Walshaw Moor just have a look on Google Earth at the historical air photos and compare 2002 and the latest photography. You will be stunned. Note the massive increase in burning and the appearance of new roads and drains. These new features have added to the existing hundreds of miles of man made drainage that has been put in to produce a dryer moorland to make heather grow where it shouldn't.

Please remember, on our very doorsteps, we in Calderdale are blind to what is on our very doorstep. This network of drainage and moor burning is flooding your house every year but we marvel at the heathery moors and burning on a winters day, what fools we are!!! Do something about it by getting this madness stopped! Mark Avery is trying to get to the bottom of why our wildlife protection agency was stopped from saving the moor from destruction and why the government thinks that grouse shooting is more important than carbon, water protection, flood prevention and biodiversity at

Wuthering Moors 18 – your help needed please

What amazes me is that we pay millions to Yorkshire Water every year for them to clean all the carbon out of our water on the shooting industries behalf!

Read it all. It is extremely fascinating.

From Frederick Stein

Thursday, 28 June 2012

This article from the Independent implies that the wildlife minister Richard Benyon lent on Natural England to drop the prosecution against the Walshaw Moor Estate. It seems strange to pull this case at such a late stage.

I thought NE are meant to look after wildlife not game shooting interests? Interesting to note that the Minister is also a member of the Moorland Association who promote the management of Grouse Moors.

From Julie C

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Wasn't 't sure which thread this fitted into, but reckon this is it.

I understand from talking to an older friend from Pecket, that the farmers on the Tops, as part of their Commons rights, had a duty to carry out 4 days free work on the moor per year. Anyone know if that still stands? She said that new people coming in didn't know about this and so the practice had fallen into disuse.

From Andy M

Friday, 3 August 2012

Rather depends on what sort of work it was required by their commons agreement Julie . There'd be work to maintain boundaries, clear ditches perhaps - not ideal in this case - scrub weed clearance perhaps, stock management etc.

Whilst the compromise on the moors is far from ideal there will be conservation measures in place to enhance the moorland . . . at a price to the taxpayer

From Julie C

Monday, 27 August 2012

I think contributors to the debate on this issue might find the following websites

helpful and informative.

Welcome to the Yorkshire Peat Partnership

Watershed Landscape Project

These organisations are both involved in the conservation of our local upland areas.

From Andy M

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Thanks Julie - good work being done by both.

The main management influences - apart from management for grouse - are Natural England administered Environmental Stewardship schemes - which cover most of our local moors and a fair proportion of the neighbouring farmland - and the protection afforded - or not - by statutory designations e.g. Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Special area of Conservation etc.