Mossdale Estate under fire from local residents

We’re often told how ‘beneficial’ driven grouse shooting is to rural communities and how supportive local residents are of their nearby grouse shooting estate. There was plenty of testimony to this ‘rural idyll’ in the written evidence submitted to the Westminster Petitions Committee’s inquiry on grouse shooting. That’s hardly a surprise when some local residents will be directly employed by the estate  – it’s in their interest be supportive. But when those without employment links, but who are still entangled in this feudal system, dare not speak out against a powerful landowner for fear of potential repercussions, their silence may also be used as evidence of ‘support’.

However, some local communities are far from happy with this fictional romanticism of their lives and are beginning to voice their dissent. As land reform gains traction in Scotland we’ve already seen proposals for community buy-outs of grouse shooting land at Leadhills (part of the Hopetoun (Leadhills) Estate, see here and here) and at nearby Wanlockhead (part of Buccleuch Estates, see here and here), where local residents are keen to escape the clutches of feudalism and instead improve economic development and enhance tourism and leisure opportunities in their area.

(Photo: Leadhills grouse moor looms large over the village)


Residents of the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire have long campaigned against the annual heather burning taking place on Walshaw Estate, which they believe has contributed to the catastrophic flooding of towns such as Hebden Bridge (see here and here).

And now residents living in the Yorkshire Dales National Park/Cumbria are beginning to raise their voices too. Remember the wildlife crimes uncovered at the Mossdale Estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in May this year, when a gamekeeper was filmed setting three pole traps on the grouse moor? The publicity surrounding those crimes (and the subsequent police cock up that saw the offender receive a caution instead of being prosecuted) appears to have acted as a catalyst and triggered a string of other complaints from local residents to the police about the alleged conduct of the Mossdale Estate landowner and his gamekeepers. The same complaints were lodged with David Butterworth, CEO of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

An FoI request has revealed local residents made the following allegations:

  • Firearms discharged across garden with children in;
  • Unattended firearms left on quads;
  • Firearms being discharged next to (? Across) A684;
  • Confrontation with gamekeepers and intimidation of residents

The full set of allegations can be read in this part of the response we received to an FoI made to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority: mossdale-complaint-local-residents

You’ll notice in the above correspondence that the residents also complained about the response they received from Cumbria Police. Since then (June 2016), further information has revealed that the Police eventually met with Mossdale Estate owner Edward Van Cutsem and his head gamekeeper on 22 September 2016 and they concluded that no offences had occurred.

There’s a lot more to this particular story than we’re able to publish at the moment but hopefully we’ll be able to in due course. Suffice to say, local residents are still VERY unhappy about the way their complaints were handled. Local MP Tim Farron has been consulted and it’ll be interesting to see whether he attends tomorrow’s Westminster debate on driven grouse shooting and speaks up for his constituents’ concerns.

11 thoughts on “Mossdale Estate under fire from local residents”

  1. Hi, I remain interested in the land rights history of these grouse moors ; are they enclosed commons ? Could a new Act of Enclosure “recover” them ?

    1. Hi Peter, I can only speak for what is happening in Scotland, but even here, it is very difficult !!

      Have a look at the work and writings of Andy Wightman ( now Green MSP ) also one success story,

      If you are in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, then probably nothing short of a revolution will return your common lands !!

  2. So presumably the police always go to the criminals to ask if a crime has been committed, and if the answer is no then all the complaints are foundless, fictions nonsense. Not sure that approach works in any other area of criminality, just those against wildlife it would appear.

  3. Many years ago before I new very much about grouse moors, I stayed in Wanlockhead and remember thinking ‘what a dissolute place’ hardly any trees and no wildlife with the exception of rabbits. The photo above tells its own story – a complete eyesore. Its about time the police stopped acting as surfs to these estates and started upholding the law of the land. I wont expect much from Tim Farron !!

  4. I have twice written to Tim Farron about tomorrow’s Westminster debate and he has replied twice. However the second reply was interesting and I quote ‘I should explain that the debates in Westminster Hall are restricted to backbench MPs in order to allow the public expression of those with strong views upon the need for changes to Government policy or existing law.’ He seems to be saying he is not allowed to speak as he isn’t a backbencher?

    1. I gather that is true from the response my sister had from a shadow cabinet minister.
      ‘As a shadow cabinet member I am not permitted to speak on issues outside of my area of responsibility.’
      It seems although i can see the point in giving preference to backbenchers but it is unfair to the constituents. There should be some kind of backup or regional representative who can speak on your behalf particularly when the constituency I refer to covers part of the Forest of Bowland and received 400 signatures.

  5. That is how the estates work ! If you are a tenant, you dare not complain, you have to keep your head down, and keep quiet. Most leases for housing are now 6 months only, and tenants are threatened with ” we may not be able to renew your lease if you don’t do ….. xyz ”

    Peoples pets are ‘disappeared’ ( killed ) cars interfered with, property damaged.

    Withdrawal of water can happen – see

    Tenant farmers are now on 1 year leases, I’ve even heard of 364 day leases, so again, under the thumb !

    Gamekeepers are in tied housing, so do what they are told.

    Also tradesmen can be threatened with withdrawal of work, and slow payment is used to bring them into line.

    It is extremely unlikely that one ever meets the estate owner, you have to deal with the factor, who, like solicitors, will deny everything, unless you are able and willing to prove your case in court, against their expensive briefs.

    Both the police and local councils are largely ineffective.

    Now do you see why I chose my ‘nom de plume’ !

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