National Trust to receive petition calling for cessation of grouse shooting

Today (Tuesday 25 July 2017) the National Trust will receive a petition calling for the cessation of grouse shooting on one of their moors in the Peak District National Park.

The petition was launched last year by a newly-formed group called Moorland Vision (see website here). It was triggered by a video we posted on this blog in April 2016 showing an armed man sitting close to a decoy hen harrier on a National Trust-owned moor within the National Park (see here). The National Trust had leased the moor to a tenant for grouse shooting and the moor was supposedly one of several within the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative – an ambitious partnership plan to restore raptor populations in the region, which unsurprisingly has so far failed to meet its targets.

That video, filmed by two birdwatchers who had the presence of mind to record their observations, led to a police investigation but unfortunately there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution. Many readers of this blog (and others) were infuriated by the content of that video and were frustrated by the lack of criminal proceedings. As a result, the National Trust was inundated with emails calling for the Trust to take action.

A few months later, in June 2016, the National Trust surprised us all by announcing it was to terminate the grouse shooting lease four years early (see here). The tenant was given 22 months notice and is due to leave in April 2018. We viewed this as a significant and welcome move by the National Trust, especially as the decision wasn’t based on the outcome of a criminal prosecution, but rather that the Trust had lost faith in the shooting tenant’s commitment to the National Trust’s upland vision, including the restoration of raptor populations. It was a fantastic example of how public opinion and pressure can effect change.

However, other campaigners didn’t think the National Trust had gone far enough. They wanted to see the removal of the shooting tenancy altogether, rather than the Trust’s idea that a new, more enlightened shooting tenant would be installed in 2018.  This is when the campaign group, Moorland Vision, was formed.

For the last year, members of Moorland Vision have run a local campaign to secure petition signatures calling on the National Trust to remove the grouse shooting tenancy from this moor. They’ve collected nearly 5,000 signatures and have the support of fifteen local organisations:

Derbyshire Ornithological Society, Dark Peak Fell Runners, Darley & Nutwood LNR Management Group, Pleasley Pit Nature Study Group, Sutton-in-Ashfield and District Rambling Club, Ogston Bird Club, Derbyshire Mammal Group, Carsington Bird Club, Wessington Green LNR Management Group, Bakewell Bird Study Group, Buxton Ramblers, Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group, Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group, Stanfree Valley Preservation Group, Derby Natural History Society.

Nick Moyes, the founder of Moorland Vision said: “The National Trust is a major conservation organisation and normally does brilliant work in protecting and enhancing our environment. But with clear evidence that moorland management for grouse shooting leads to the killing of birds of prey and almost every other predator – and especially here on its doorstep – you would think the National Trust would have decided immediately that enough is enough. The fact that it did not immediately recognise the opportunity this provides us with to re-wild and restore these moorlands without the well-documented problems associated with grouse moor management is really disappointing. Hence our petition“.

Bob Berzins from the Dark Peak Fell Runners said: “I and my club members see so much harm done by mis-management on the Peak District moorlands. The worst excesses are definitely on privately-owned shooting estates, where intensive burning, track building, predator snaring and shooting is particularly rife. But this is a one off opportunity for the National Trust to say ‘no more’ to management purely for one hobby and to show its true conservation credentials by establishing a proper rewilding project over 8,000 hectares of iconic moorland which would be far better for biodiversity and would create more natural landscapes – just as the Trust is helping to do on the Eastern Moors where the Peak Park banned shooting many decades ago“.

Congratulations to Moorland Vision for all their hard work over the last year. This is a fantastic grass-roots effort and has done much to increase awareness in the local community and beyond. It’ll be interesting to see how the National Trust responds.

Photo of some of the local campaigners (by Moorland Vision)

12 thoughts on “National Trust to receive petition calling for cessation of grouse shooting”

  1. I started following Moorland Vision (I think they followed me first) on Twitter last year and I must say I am very pleased to see them get this far. I’m actually a bit less pessimistic towards the outcome this time (though I’m still under no illusions in the world of DGS). The National Trust have a fantastic chance to make some epic changes to the land management and open up more in the leisure tourism sector.

  2. If the NT responds they same way they do to the pressure of those wishing to remove fox hunting from their land they will either completely ignore it or just issue their standard statement regarding field sports over and over again until everyone gets bored.

    With a blood sports loving HRH as figurehead nothing will change although I take my hat off to Moorland vision for their efforts and truly hope for change.

  3. What a bloody fantastic effort! If they got that many signatures they must have raised a hell of a lot of public awareness, and from the spread of supporting organisations many people must see these ‘glorious’ moors for what they really are ecologically devastated glorified industrial units for producing grouse (and only red ones at that). Love it that the local bat group is involved, even if bats can feed well over the heather where the hell are they supposed to roost given the near total absence of mature trees where DGS is practiced? A classic example that estates DON’T create a habitat mosaic instead they prevent one, what you could call a Savile, a lie hiding in plain sight. On facebook I pointed out to a DGS supporter that bats must struggle on grouse moors and got the reply that they lived on the edge of one and had 500 bats living in their chimney! Then there was the local expert who informed me the grouse moors in Bowland are above the treeline – yes a treeline in Lancashire. And of course the Yorkshire (Grouse) Moorland Forum who claimed they’d photographed a whole bevvy of raptors including marsh harrier and hobby on a single trip to a grouse shooting estate. When asked to produce the images they ‘weren’t ready yet’ – so digital photography hasn’t reached Yorkshire obviously.

    At that pathetic Westminster ‘debate’ on BDGS last year Soames and friends tried to say grouse moors are a wonderful landscape, a part of our cultural heritage that we should be grateful to generations of landowners looking after for us. That doesn’t quite tally with the fact that these estates were almost universally against right to roam legislation and general public access is it? Easy to see why now when anybody with a double figure IQ goes anywhere near one they realize they aren’t wonderful, they are shite (another Savile?). I’ve been driven past and through some grouse moors recently, they look absolutely bloody awful – variegated patches of heather and that’s it, nothing else – they are depriving us of so, so much. What a cracking piece of news this is, compare the professionalism and integrity (and general intelligence) of Moorland Vsion to GWCT, BASC and the Moorland Association – if I owned a grouse moor I’d be getting very nervous, this is the future and it isn’t going away. Maybe time is drawing near for a petition to the Westminster Govt for a proper economic study of DGS south of the border…..

    1. [Ed: comment deleted. Morag, this is probably the fourth or fifth time you have made these libellous allegations. We’re not going to publish them so please stop posting them. Thanks]

  4. It is encouraging to see just how many people are now seeing what is happening and all such efforts are to be welcomed. Eventually the pressure will work, although we know it will be a long path. Inspiring to see just how many people care about our uplands and wildlife. The truth is slowly coming out.

  5. And this from the NT, in the face of likely internal influence. This same internal influence perhaps has had the NT having to re-let the shoot. There’s probably much more internal politics within the NT, considering that a number of the earlier properties were gifted conditionally in a different age, where documentation would have been drawn up and agreed, based on the views held at that time.
    The re-letting is more likely to have arisen as a result of the original tenancy having been in breach of the NT / Tenancy agreement. The point is, with some of these “gifted” estates, and I don’t know if this is one, the perpetuation of shooting tenancy may have been insisted on as a condition of the “gift”. Nevertheless there will be, perhaps a majority, within the NT who will welcome outside influence in the form of petitions and pressure groups, if only to ensure transparency.

    1. wjspeirs – I’m sure that you are correct, it is likely that they are bound by conditions that came with the land / house at the time. Like everyone here I would love to see the end of all raptor persecution but, unfortunately, things aren’t always black and white.

  6. 38% of those who signed our petition in person locally did also declared themselves to be National Trust members – a not insignficant amount.

    Sadly, we will not now be handing over our petition at lunchtime today. The Trust’s Director for the Midlands, Andy Beer, range me a couple of hours ago to cancel our meeting, citing issues that unexpectedly arisen elsewhere. We are hoping to reschedule our petition handover in the near future. Watch our blog for details.

    So, we’ve kept our online petition open, and would welcome all and any publicity your readers now care to give it.

    More time to sign!:

    1. The national trust was only given lands so this sort of behaviour can continue. Just like brandsdale estate no hen harriers nesting here either, I wonder why ? I worked on the lead hills estate with the nt head of consevation brother who was tenant farmer for 30 gears there who [Ed: rest of this comment deleted as libellous]

  7. I wrote to Dame Helen Ghosh about the shooting tenancies in the Peak National Park in February. It was answered by a subordinate who passed the buck to Jon Stewart, General Manager, Peak District. He answered my letter in April (shows how urgently it was viewed).

    He said, and I quote, “We will therefore look to receive applications from partners who can demonstrate how moorland management and shooting can deliver great nature conservation in a way that is compatible with public access” and “you will understand we are taking a responsible and clear approach to grouse shooting on our land”. From this I think it’s clear the NT will re-let a shooting tenancy on this land. I can’t believe it!

    I am sure Jon Stewart would have said if there was a condition to allow shooting when the land was gifted. So I assume they have a free hand. If they do re-let I think Kinder Scout type protests should ensue. Questions should also be raised at the 2017 AGM

  8. Just shows that driven grouse shooting is about as popular as a turd in a swimming pool amongst all the other countryside users.
    Only those few involved in this unsustainable industry are in favour of it continuing on our moorlands.

    Keep up the pressure !

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