Environmental groups urge Govt to extend ban on moorland burning

At the end of January, DEFRA published a long-awaited statement on its proposal to ban burning on moorland (see here), although the proposal was heavily criticised as not going far enough and analysis by Guy Shrubsole demonstrated that many grouse moors would be exempt from the ban (see here).

[Photo by Tim Melling]

Today, the heads of 18 environmental groups have signed a letter to DEFRA Secretary of State George Eustice, urging him to extend the ban to make it more meaningful:

There is good coverage of this in today’s iNews (here) where a DEFRA spokesperson said the Government will set out further actions on England’s peatlands later this year.

43 thoughts on “Environmental groups urge Govt to extend ban on moorland burning”

  1. “a DEFRA spokesperson said the Government will set out further actions on England’s peatlands later this year.”…….ah.. so now we know what they will be doing on the 31st of December……

    Good first blast by LINK, but it needs to stay in the public eye.

  2. That is a superb photo from Tim Melling…guaranteed to make the public sit up and take notice. We should encourage a campaign of similar photos whenever anyone sees muirburn taking place..and send them to local and national media, labelled “Ban the Burn”.

    1. Brilliant idea Dave lets hope lots of folk take it up. I’ve just read the GWCT response and it is to put it bluntly the complete bollocks that one would expect these days from a once decent scientific organisation. however these days they have absolutely no objectivity whatsoever being completely ruled by the wants and needs of their sponsors.
      We certainly need to keep the pressure on, as ever with Tory government.

  3. It appears that the intial Government Plan was along the same lines as Scotland’s Beaver protection Legislation which saw more beavers killed post legislation than prior to it’s enactment. Similar tricks were played re the suspension of Raven culling in Perthshire and the “saving of hen harriers ” by brood meddling.
    This is similar in as much that it intends to pass legislation with pre-designed loopholes in it. This allows for the very point of the legislation to be rendered “unfit for purpose.” This is not careless improvidence .. far from it .. but yet another plan to fool people that something is being done to address their concerns .. when the only concerns that appear to matter for our shadowy legislators is the coninuation of commercial shooting on Driven Grouse Moors. Sophistry at it’s worst.
    The good news is seeing so many environmental groups coming together to oppose it. That encourages me.

    1. As, indeed, Tony Blair admitted about the Hunting with Hounds Act – another intolerably xxxxxxxxx politician

    2. I have to say, George, that you are spot on. Inside Defra are very well informed senior Civil Servants who use all their abilities to design legislation to appease ‘public opinion’ but which changes as little as possible.

      They are both clever and cynical.

      (I am intrigued and pleased that Plantlife have signed this letter, because they used to have people with shooting interests on their governing body…)

  4. Looks like a wildfire to me why are lot so against people doing fieldsports the amount of hyphoricy is from you people is outstanding quite happy eating KFC maccys coffee from Starbucks leather seats in your car we just want a simple life harvesting our own food and also when it comes to muirburn it’s just simple look at them old crappy conifers in your garden that’s what the Moors will become all withered and fuel loaded

    1. 1. I don’t use fast food outlets. I’ve never been in Starbucks, and I don’t own a car.

      2. If you’re going to accuse people of hypocrisy, try spelling it correctly.

      3. Nobody here’s daft enough to be fooled by your ridiculous “harvesting” pretence. Or your baseless claims regarding conifers.

      4. Ever wondered what these are for? (. , ; : ‘ ? !)

          1. Oh dear, I’m positively reeling! How can we possibly further our cause when the DGS sector can wheel out such intellectual leviathans who provide such powerful, incisive arguments?

    2. Grouse shooting isn’t farming or ‘harvesting’, it would be far too inefficient to make any money if it was about providing food. It’s about a few people spending an awful lot of money to use grouse as flying targets, so on top of the land that at least really feeds us this is more land wrecked, but for no sane reason whatsoever. On top of that we have an obesity crisis and approx 40% of our food gets wasted so the idea we need grouse moors to help feed the country is just bollocks. As they are grouse moors have made the uplands more flammable and the lowlands more susceptible to flooding. And if conifers aren’t planted where grouse moors are they just go somewhere else so we end up with ecologically shitty conifer plantations AND ecologically shitty grouse moors. The answer is to apply reduce, reuse, recycle and use of recycled material so there’s less demand for timber and pulp reducing threats across the board from subtropical forest in Brazil being replaced by eucalyptus plantations, to the remnant old growth forest in Sweden being logged, to land freed up from ‘sporting’ estates in Scotland being covered in Sitka spruce rather than rewilded. A lot of bad things to be stopped, and good things to be started so a shame lives and land are wasted for a few to kill for fun. Sign this if you want to start doing the good things – http://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01850

  5. From the iNews article: ‘Unless action is taken, swathes of England’s peatlands could be on fire during COP26, the international climate summit the UK is hosting in Glasgow later this year, the charities warn. The Wildlife Trusts warned such a scenario would be “extremely embarrassing” for the UK, which must use the summit to convince other nations to embrace bolder climate action.’
    How funny this would be: to see the government’s embarrassment; try explaining that one away to the rest of the world as we tell them what they should be doing, but I would much prefer that the burning is halted forever.
    Just looking at the photo it wreaks of the devastation and destruction of these wonderful ecological spaces that have taken ages to form and store the damaging carbon, as does the one above.
    Congratulations to all those who have come together and supported this letter to the Secretary of State and signed willingly. Let us hope that the government will take notice and listen to the sensible voice, and not those of the profit-led grouse moor owners.

  6. Good to see that this excellent, concerted, piece of work has well and truly called Defra’s bluff on this issue. It should certainly come as no surprise to George Eustice that the terms of the restrictions have been deemed to be totally unacceptable. Peat is peat irrespective of its depth and the classification, or otherwise, of the area in which it occurs. With COP 26 coming up later this year, here’s a ready-made opportunity for the Government to show that it means business in terms of environmental protection. Time for another U-turn.

    1. Faked I don’t think so, but what if it is?
      You are not trying to say muirburn doesn’t take place are you? No problem with restrictive legislation if that is the case.

    1. Happens to wind all the time it can be in a different direction at ground level to higher up. Certainly frequent where I live . I thought you lot claimed to understand the outdoors, clearly not.

    2. It’s a Photoshop ,,Hiroshima style ,maybe when the snowflakes take their BBQ out in the summer they will witness wildfires on the unmanaged moors and be trapped by their own stupidity ,,never mind ,the beavers will be their saviours

      1. Do you want to explain how beavers damming watercourses together with damp riparian wooded strips aren’t going to both reduce fire risk on the moors and flood risk below them? I believe water isn’t very good for fire or is that just one of our daft townie misapprehensions? I’m all ears. I think ‘being trapped by their own stupidity’ is a pretty good description of those that have created flammable uplands and wrecked proper job opportunities by turning the hills into an industrial unit for churning out sickly grouse. We’re going to see who the real snowflakes are.

    3. My word, Gordon. Your struggle to understand the unfathomable mysteries of wind will have me chuckling until bed time. Truly brilliant, thank you!

    4. Wow. Perhaps the next time you (Gordon and Steve) are outside you could both look up and see multiple layers of cloud all travelling in different directions. It’s a very common phenomenon. Just be careful though as if it starts raining you might drown.

    5. As well as being a good demonstration of the air pollution caused by heather burning I believe the photo also shows an excellent example of a temperature inversion which is what has caused the smoke to spread horizontally at the level of the inversion. There is nothing whatsoever to suggest that this image has been photoshopped.

  7. Arguing about the photo is a smokescreen! The argument re: burning it so it doesn’t burn, also a smokescreen. The reason why they could be a potential fire risk is due to management. Grouse eat heather, the more heather the more grouse. Moors have been drained to dry them, heather likes dry conditions, therefore it increases, grouse increase. Heather is a very dry, easy to burn, tinder-like woody plant. other damp loving greener plants, mosses, bog myrtle etc die out,then more heather, more grouse etc. Simple solution: block up drains, re-wet moors, boggier ground, dincrease diversity of plants, less burnable heather therefore less fire risk, unfortunately also less red grouse. Also dont forget heather can be cut with a machine, so it not a case that just because it isn’t control burned that it can’t be managed to manage the fire risk. Also the proposal is clear that where a substantial fire risk is present then a licence for burning can be applied for. Sorry rushed, I’m on pancake duty!

  8. I think the most telling thing in the letter is the range, depth and credibility of the organisations the signatories represent. These are organisations whose combined research, knowledge and understanding of the consequences of peat burning in the uplands is at the forefront of current thinking.
    The government and DEFRA simply can not ignore this letter, without losing credibility for their proposals. Proposals which appear to be influenced by the grouse shooting industry, in an attempt to ensure peat burning and artificially high grouse densities are maintained in the uplands; whilst at the same time pretending to address some of the ecological issues around peat burning.
    Fortunately this ruse has been seen through.
    Let’s hope the letter has the desired effect, and the proposed legislation is revised before it is laid in parliament.
    In the meantime, it might be worthwhile writing to MP’s to express dissatisfaction with the DEFRA proposals, and to ensure a ban on upland peat burning is both meaningful and a genuine step towards climate change targets and ecological restoration.

    These DEFRA proposals should also serve as a reminder that the current government may not be as sincere in its “green policies” as it would like the public to believe. Strong words need to be backed up by strong legislation. This doesn’t appear to be the case in this instance. If we are to tackle the climate change emergency and extinction crisis, then the government will need to back up its rhetoric with meaningful positive action. Will we actually see this?

  9. A Bolton moor that had grouse shooting which was stopped several years ago is on this platform they wanna dismantle it bit by bit let’s ban all grouse shooting and look what happens you lot are Muppets none of us want raptor persecution. out them call the police .call us well call police

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