RSPB shows its teeth over Walshaw grouse moor management

The RSPB has lodged a formal complaint to the European Commission over the way Natural England has (mis?)handled its dealings with the Walshaw Moor Estate near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, concerning moor management regimes.  A couple of previous posts on this here and here).

Brilliant news! Well done RSPB – nice to see your teeth bared – good on you!

RSPB Conservation Director Martin Harper explains the decision to lodge this complaint here

An excellent summary (and detailed history) of the Natural England / Walshaw Moor fiasco can be found on Mark Avery’s blog here.

21 thoughts on “RSPB shows its teeth over Walshaw grouse moor management”

  1. Well done RSPB. I , for one, have criticized them for a seemingly lack of willingness in recent times to adopt a more public campaigning stance on various issues. This is a big and bold decision and will not endear them to the Westminster Government. But the review, and its potential outcome, could have far reaching effects on the future status and management of uplands. Whilst it might take time, this is an issue worth following.

  2. This estate’s management showing all too clearly here their contempt for the Law, which exactly parallels the situation over raptor persecution – I suspect that the real reason for Natural England’s refusal to take the whole habitat destruction case to court is that they are afraid of losing, at the cost of huge sums of public money…but if these Laws are unworkable they will have to be changed. Perhaps no one has the political guts to suggest that to this UK government, where it will be deeply unpopular?..Easier just to back down and let these people do what the hell they want with our countryside?

    …and now a long protracted struggle here and in Europe over what should have been a simple criminal destruction and contempt of court case…these legal problems should have been cleared up years ago with the same robust approach to court work that was taken over individual species matters…it would have been difficult and expensive but probably much cheaper in resources in the long run.

  3. At last, significant (and powerful) action in the fight for the Uk’s uplands and their flora and fauna. Could this be the first chink of light in what has been a long, dark tunnel? It’s been a while in coming, but nevertheless the RSPB is to be congratulated on this brave decision. Very well done indeed. It will be very interesting to see how the Coalition Government, the SGA, DEFRA and its Environment Minister react to this challenge. It will also be equally interesting to see how the RSPB’s voiciferous critics in Bowland react!

  4. Congratulations RSPB for sticking up to your principals, the UK government, Defra and Natural England have bowed to pressure from that minority group the Countryside killers (sorry Alliance) today I am proud to be a member.

  5. Yes, at last the RSPB shows it’s backbone, go for it, what’s to lose anyway; the estates have had it all their own way for far too long with absolutely no hinderance from NE / SNH, DEFRA or any government ministers. Lets hope that’s this is just a prelude of things to come with maybe a concerted effort to stop the Raptor persecution once and for all.

  6. This is just another example of how the RSPB is very much a political organisation against their Royal charter. It is time their charitable status to be removed and they are subject to the same tax remit as any profit making organisation. I respect they are perfectly within their rights to make whatever stand they wish but they should stop trying to hide the fact they are anti-shooting.

    1. I must say grouse man you are wrong totally and utterly wrong. The mismanagement of Walshaw and the capitulation of NE raise a whole series of concerns about upland management for grouse, but just because RSPB has stood up to be counted on this issue does not make them anti shooting (the sad and oft repeated tripe from your side of the fence) There are rules, regulations and laws to be followed, when broken by the grouse industry (routinely) it does not make us anti shooting to point this out or try to do something about it. In the same way those of us against lead shot are called anti shooting we’re not we are anti lead, currently your defence of the indefenceable weakens your argument.

    2. Absolute piffle again, Grouseman. You really should start to read the posts before making comment. I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site about the RSPB allowing grouse shooting on one of their reserves as part of a land management agreement. So perhaps, as you have publicly lied about them, you should issue a public apology. But furthermore, the action taken is against Natural England and has nothing to do with shooting. It is the management agreement that is in question and the alleged habitat destruction carried out that has been the problem (which Natural England is now seeming to ignore). A quote, taken from Martin Harper’s blog reads;

      “In simple terms, we believe that a management agreement reached between Walshaw Moor Estate and Natural England, in March 2012, fails to uphold both EU and UK environmental laws for the legally protected, globally rare and very sensitive blanket bog habitats on the estate.”

      So, you are quite content that the estate and NE are allegedly systematically destroying a globally rare habitat? It wasn’t that long ago, that you were referring to Scottish grouse moors as globally important habitats and comparing them to the rainforests of this world, but now because the RSPB take action against alleged rare habitat destruction, you lambast them with the usual “anti-shooting” proclamations! Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.

      1. There is no hypocrisy in what I’m claiming of course i am not content with letting anyone cause irreversible damage to a globally significant area. This is alleged what is happening but I have personally witnessed on more than one occasion SNH trying to ban muirburn on areas stating that there is rare plants and mosses and can very quickly be shown the regeneration of these exact species on freshly burnt fires. Heather burning is not a problem per sae, the problem is rampaging fires, burning deep into the peat when conditions are too dry which undoubtedly causes damage. Yes, some of these types of fires are caused by keepers making errors in judgement but also by accidental campfires and by hill walkers. There is also the issue we have seen in recent years of people deliberately starting hill fires for entertainment! There is no doubt the current mosaic style of heather burning we have now will slow down and restrict an out of control fire but if we removed all muirburn and there was no breaks how many thousands of acres and how much untold damage could be done by a dropped cigarette butt or campfire especially in a dry spring and bird breeding season such as we saw this year.

        1. there was an article 3 or 4 years back in shooting times were mowing heather was being trialled in derbyshire, none other than Robin Page wrote it and he had nothing but praise for it, if there’s a will there’s a way. unfortunately this is “change” and we are talking about an industry that is against any form of change. I’ll await the excuses

          1. Heather cutting is an alternative but takes longer to regenerate than burnt heather and is totally restricted by time and access. You have to have good ground (not to steep, not too wet, not to stony) to beable to work a machine and cutter and is very labour intensive but you are absoloutely correct I’m some cincumstances it is an alternative.

        2. First of all, are you going to publicly apologise for your previous rant against the RSPB, in which you threw wild accusations, peddled lies and commanded that they be stripped of charitable status?

          And secondly, what has this issue got to do with SNH and muirburn? Yes, muirburn was mentioned, but it was only one of the 43 alleged offences (yes, that’s right, 43 offences) relating to habitat damage.

          1. Ok admittedly I may have flown off the handle slightly and jumped the gun but I’m not going to apologise for my comment. There is no doubt many senior RSPB staff are not in favour of shooting for sport especially the elitist form we see done of it today. They would never be allowed to come out publicly and say so. I can’t seem to find the breakdown of the 43 offences but I’m willing to bet some of them are fairly minor opperations. (Digging a ditch down the back of a grouse butt 5-10 yards isn’t going to flood a town!) Surely if it was 43 major offences Natural England would have been confident enough to persue the case?

            The reason I mentioned Muirburn is I may have got this wrong but heather burning seems to be the main focus of the issue with the local people’s ‘ban the burn campaign’. The reason I used cases with SNH as an example is its a statutory body that were under the impression (until you showed them otherwise) that the plants they were concerned about weren’t in danger.

            Interestingly, I do know of several grouse moors that have carried out grip and ditch blocking in recent years to try and increase areas of peat wetlands. Some of these areas were over drained in the past and dry heather moorland is not as productive for grouse as an insect rich grass/heather mix. This undoubtedly has a knock on benefit for other wildlife.

            1. So you publicly criticise the RSPB, you demand they be stripped of charitable status, you claim they are an anti-shooting organisation and you won’t apologise for such odious comments and unsubstantiated and ridiculous claims. That says far more about you and the shooting industry than it does about the RSPB. People on here would have far more respect for you if you did take the apologetic approach, but then again the shooting industry don’t apologise for the serious crimes, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise if there is no apology for your nonsensical statements. And once again, I must reiterate that as part of a land agreement, they have grouse shooting on part of a reserve in northern Scotland. Where is this “anti-shooting” belief coming from? Also, you are surmising that senior RSPB are against shooting. If you can provide any evidence at all on this, I will happily accept it.

              By all accounts, some of the offences were major. Suggesting that some offences might be in the minor category, you are once again making a case for criminality. Why is it that some landowners/estates simply cannot work within the law? But then again the shooting industry condone serious crimes, so why bother apologising for silly little things such as damaging rare habitats.

              Yes, you would think that Natural England would pursue this case, but then again this is the same organisation that refuse to provide the details of tagged Hen Harriers. Would it be possible that they are under strict instruction from the pro-shooting Richard Benyon to allow game estates to do what they like, and eliminate said estates from all past, present and future inquiries into criminal activity?

              And here we have clear evidence that some rural communities are obviously not benefitting from shotting interests. The Ban the Burn campaign is not (as you suggest) solely about muirburn, as the campaign is also against the extensive drainage being carried out. As for the name, I would imagine the group chose the Ban the Burn name as it was alliterative. Ban the Drain or Ban Burning and Draining doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. This approach is quite common; Songbird Survival being another example – Kill All Raptors or Kill All Predators probably wouldn’t appeal to the public as much and by using the chosen name disguises their pro-shooting and anti-predator agenda.

              And once again, you have to divert the discussion away from shooting-based criminality to the “benefits to other wildlife” mantra so often spouted by the your industry. Why, oh why, can’t you just condemn the criminal actions and keep to the main topic?

  7. You can be the apologist for these people as much as you like Groseman and accuse organisations and individuals of being political and “anti-shooting”, but the fact is that these people are doing what the vast majority of the public expect them to do and that is to protect birds (The-clue-is-in–the-name). It is funny how the blood-sport community always bring politics into the issue when someone famous or an animal protection charity, who has respect and huge public support, takes a stand against their activities. In this case it is a shooting estate allegedly dumping spoil onto a protected habitat, alleged track construction across moors including converting a stream to a track, alleged drainage of peat bog, alleged construction of grouse butts and alleged damage to habitats from vehicle use (so much for countryside management and conservation). Sounds like a scene from my local estates.

    Maybe we should all be questioning the local Councils when we find what we believe to be unlawful land activity on a shooting estate. It appears that some of these estate owners are so staggeringly arrogant and have such contempt for authority that they think that they can do what they like to the environment, with or without seeking the permission, and because their activity is so remote then they believe that nobody will ever know.

    Groseman the apologist, as long as there are estates that continue to misbehave then there will always be people who care enough to be in their faces, challenging and confronting them every step of the way. Also, if you would like to talk politics then you should have a word with a senior and well known Scottish gamekeeper who gave a course to a dozen other game keepers recently and told them all to vote SNP or snaring would be banned.

  8. Didn,t think it would be long before the victim card came out. the RSPB are anti shooting my backside, read what the article is about, shooting organisations should have been on this estates back. It shouldn,t have been left to the RSPB to take it further, where,s all this shooting and conservation go side by side if you cant even condemn what,s happened on this estate

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