Local community raises concerns about grouse moor management in National Park

The picture often painted by the grouse shooting industry is one of community harmony – a rural idyll where local residents are deliriously enthralled by the activities of the local grouse moor managers and thankful for the boost that grouse shooting brings to the local economy, without which the local community would apparently collapse.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Until, that is, you realise that the various quotes trotted out in support of the industry are word-for-word identical, even though they were supposedly uttered by local residents living hundreds of miles apart! Quite obviously this was part of a determined PR effort by the industry’s spin doctors to portray widespread support (e.g. see here).

Increasingly, though, we’ve been hearing a different point of view, with local residents finding their voices and speaking out against the damage this industry brings to their door. First we heard from local communities in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (see here and here), then from a community in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (see here), and now from a local community in the North York Moors National Park.

Last month, residents of the village of Goathland called a public meeting to discuss their concerns about the environmental consequences of driven grouse moor management in their area, and particularly their concerns about ‘disappearing’ wildlife.

Here’s Goathland, in the heart of this National Park and practically surrounded by driven grouse moors:

This is a National Park – look at the state of it! And those grouse moors spread a lot further west than shown on this map.

Here’s the agenda for the meeting held on 24 October 2018. We note with some irony the third item listed was ‘Raptors disappearing’. Less than two days after this meeting, the satellite tag attached to hen harrier Arthur sent its last signal from a grouse moor in the North York National Park before both it and Arthur ‘disappeared’.

One of our blog readers attended this meeting and made some notes, as follows:

A few days later the official minutes were circulated as follows:

There’s a lot of interesting stuff to work through in both these documents. Many thanks to the blog reader who sent these through.

Very well done to the Goathland residents for raising these issues and for trying to hold someone to account. It’s brilliant to see them challenging the Moorland Association and exposing its propaganda.

If you’d like to support the Goathland residents and add your voice to theirs, you might like to comment on the current Landscapes Review consultation which is gathering evidence on how England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) should be ‘fit for the future’. If you think intensive grouse moor management and its associated wildlife crime should be ousted from the North York Moors National Park, or that the National Park Authority should be given increased enforcement powers to deal with the associated wildlife crime and environmental damage, then this is your opportunity to comment.

UPDATE 11 January 2019: Local community holds 2nd meeting to raise concerns about grouse moor management in National Park (here)

18 thoughts on “Local community raises concerns about grouse moor management in National Park”

  1. This is wonderful, hardly surprising that local people have noticed the effect of the land usage about them, but being prepared to meet and talk about it is to my mind, revolutionary. Congratulations to them, and really pleased that they have the likes of RPUK to inform of this.
    I look forward to more local areas having the sense to discuss the issues, even if many locals feel that in their position, it is impossible.

  2. Hawk and Owl organisation?? Google knows of none by that name. However, I do know that Chris Hansell is a ranger for the Hawk and Owl Trust. Surely this is a coincidence? And if not, what was he doing defending this sort of management?

    1. I think his organisation has very close ties to the shooting community. As it’s popular membership support is collapsing he probably believes that his income will propped up by shooting related fake research work.

  3. Great stuff. The demographic of the countryside is changing too. Support the local people who get very little from DGM’s except trouble anbd inconvenience. Our strength lies in inceasing our numbers, both in rural and urban communities.

  4. I live in Goathland and was the guy who challenged Amanda’s claims at the meeting. I can confirm the strength of local feeling here against the grouse estates. I don’t remember saying I have no problem with keepers. What I did say was that, with a couple of exceptions, I like them as blokes but don’t trust them an inch where large raptors are concerned. At one point I held up a Buzzard feather with clearly evident shotgun pellet damage and informed George Winn-Darley present, that I had picked it up on one of the local moors he manages last May. In fairness, I must point out that habitat management, ideal for waders and Merlins, (as well as grouse), on two moors at least in the National Park, is excellent – one being Spaunton Moor – owned by George WD – the other, Egton High Moor owned by Oliver Foster. Frankly, I cannot say the same for some of the highest moors in the NP which have been badly overburnt in recent years. You will be pleased to know that the two chaps who determinedly brought about the meeting have no intention of letting matters rest there. Be assured there will be other meetings so it is very much in the interests of the estates to get their act together and improve things significantly on their side of things if they want to avoid future local hostility and damaging publicity.

    1. The only thing that worries me about the estates “getting their act together” is that there is a lot they could do to deal with this superficially, whilst continuing to relentlessly persecute raptors surreptitiously. I was rather taken aback by the alleged estimated population of 68,000 pairs of Buzzard – was this supposed to be perceived as the total for the Goathland area alone? Even for the North York Moors National Park that population of Buzzards seems impossible, suggesting that the gamekeepers operating in that area are squeaky clean. A quick Google search reveals that this figure is claimed by the Countryside Alliance (that reliable source of ornithological information), as the estimated population for the WHOLE of Britain. It doesn’t take account of the significant reduction in the national population that has been noted in a range of bird recording areas since 2013.

      1. N.B. The Countryside Alliance estimate of the British Buzzard population, in 2013, is over four times the concurrent estimate made by the ornithological authorities. I know who I believe.

        1. [Ed: comment deleted as libellous. Doug – please be careful with your phrasing and what you are accusing others of doing! Thks]

    2. Well done Wilf and the other local residents, this is excellent. I found it very interesting that George (who I have had email correspondence with in the past) was slated to speak, but was sidelined so that Amanda could do her PR spiel instead. Did the MA not trust George to say the right things?

      Keep at it, plenty of people are behind you! And definitely raise these issues with your local newspaper, as the last thing the grouse shooting industry wants is journalists asking them awkward questions.

  5. Pollution is mentioned and high levels of acidity in the run off but does anyone ever record and publish to lead pollution levels in the water and peat? Sadly the lead contamination will take many, many years to dwindle with dire consequences for the water ways.

    The meeting seems to have been quite damning of the shooting industry. We need more like it.


  6. Cracking post RPUK! There’s not just been a lot of local frustration at how grouse moors are affecting peoples’ lives, there’s clearly one hell of a lot of local insight and knowledge that’s not had a voice until now. Usually it’s the keepers and their fresh faced children stuck in front of the camera and held up as the local community, not so by a long chalk. I was extremely impressed by the resident that had been testing pH in local Becks. I’m positive there’s a very strong conflict between driven Grouse Shooting with all that muirburn and fishing, especially game fishing, something that’s being swept under the carpet by the same angling organisations that are calling for the ‘control’ of fish eating predators. This is a point a hell of a lot more could be made of. Hopefully interest in having meetings like this will snowball. I wonder if Amanda Anderson is covertly looking for another Job?

  7. We have the ph levels for both of the becks that feed into the Murk Esk & then the Esk theses two becks Ellerbeck Beck & West Beck is where the run off from the Moors around the village drains into the first reading is May 1981 which is used as a reference point, no one knew this was available which came as a surprise to the Moorland Management Association, Natural England et al. As Wilf has said there are to be follow up public meetings, some have already been held with Natural England & others being organised with the Environmental Agency which will be fed back at the next open meeting hopefully in December.

    1. Brilliant stuff, it seems that quite a few angling organisations are demonstrating what Ruth Tingay refers to as ‘wilful blindness’ over this. Can you please get this guest blog out and about in your community to highlight the petition it mentions, it just needs to get to 10,000 signatures to get an official government response – if local communities in grouse shooting areas get behind the petition it will say a lot – https://markavery.info/2018/09/27/guest-blog-driven-grouse-shooting-your-bluffs-been-called-by-les-wallace/#comments

    1. The French I believe managed it historically but our country despite some support for the revolution at the time avoided it so we may be stuck with them for some while longer. Perhaps a great many of them may succumb to lead poisoning eventually. Failing that perhaps we could offer them to the Americans, who seem to admire them, buying them one way only tickets might in the long run be a very good economic option.

  8. The issue Goathland residents raised about the Police being difficult to contact via 101 is one that also came up when I investigated the shooting of a Red Kite on Saddleworth Moor this summer:-


    The man who witnessed the bird shot spent about two hours on two separate calls trying unsuccessfully to get through to someone, before giving up and calling the RSPB instead.

    Police resourcing is clearly a major problem – and the criminals know this. Fingers crossed the new chair of the RPPDG can make some progress on this issue during his tenure.

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