Carbon emissions tax proposed for grouse shooting estates

There’s an article in today’s Observer featuring a proposal by the John Muir Trust that grouse-shooting (and deer) estates should be taxed for their carbon emissions to encourage them to minimise their management intensity.

It’s an interesting proposal for dealing with the critical issue of carbon emissions from muirburning and all its associated damage (e.g. habitat damage to blanket bog, increased flood risk, increased air pollution) but of course it doesn’t address all the other environmental horrors associated with driven grouse shooting, such as the illegal killing of birds of prey, the use of poisonous lead ammunition, the virtually unregulated mass distribution of a veterinary drug (via medicated grit) known to be an acutely toxic environmental contaminant, the virtually unregulated slaughter of hundreds of thousands of wild birds and mammals to ‘protect’ the stock of red grouse for shooting etc etc.

Still worth a read though.

The article can be read in full here

17 thoughts on “Carbon emissions tax proposed for grouse shooting estates”

  1. We should simply ban muirburn and other harmful practices. We’re a long way past the point where gradual change might have been sufficient to deal with climate change.

    Promoting token measures allow an organisation to occupy a comfortable space where they can claim to be green without really sticking their heads above the parapet. Being truly green now means being radical. It means smashing the status quo with a hamner. We need bodies like the JMT to take a clear lead. A policy review might be in order. For example, objecting to renewable energy proposals on the grounds that they might spoil the view is difficult to defend given the need to tackle climate change.

    1. It doesn’t make any environmental sense building industrial windfarms on upland carbon storing peats eitheir – not to mention their affect on sensitive birdlie

  2. with the climate as it is around carbon emissions then this is a very sensible proposal, as they have to be reduced to zero as soon as possible

  3. A drop in the ocean in regards to the overall situation. How is it to be policed. Given that amongst the owners are some of the world’s richest men and have shown little enthgusiasm to obey any rules in regards to Driven Grouse Moors I see this as akin to the sincerity behind Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deals and doubt the outcome will differ much — with the fight being focused on the interpretation of the rules — which will be ultimately decided by highly paid, public school educated Queens Counsel’s.
    In the face of what our Uplands, it’s flora and fauna are facing I reluctantly see John Muir Trust’s intervention in this specific case as unhelpful which helps those who have caused the damage over hundred’s of years rather that those whose aim is to restore it’s health. What is needed is change in every area which can be seen and experienced at ground level.
    It’s very difficult for me to see meaningful change when the details are put into the hands of staticians and financiers.
    Blah, Blah, Blah.

  4. Carbon emissions are one thing, but the article does not mention the significant costs of having to filter drinking water, or of the flooding of settlements downstream of catchments, as a direct result of the systematic draining and burning of our uplands…

    Scottish Land & Estates claim “there is a danger that biodiversity habitats suffer by simply measuring success through a single metric (carbon sequestration)”. The John Muir Trust should immediately introduce the additional metrics of water filtering and flooding costs.

    Scottish Land & Estates also claim “Such a tax would be hugely costly to administer and would almost certainly be unworkable due to the need for extensive soil sampling, woodland and peatland surveys”. How unworkable, then, are any other ‘official’ proposals to ban the burning of heather on peat beyond a specified depth, which also requires “extensive soil sampling and peatland surveys”?

    I dare say Mrs Windsor will sadly get her say on any tax proposal which effects her interests, too:-(

    But it is good to see the issue being raised during COP26, because the vast majority of protestors who I have listened to have absolutely no idea that shooting is a carbon issue.

  5. The idea of a personal carbon allowance seems like a great idea. Without being able to trade them off.
    The grouse moors would use up a hundred years of carbon allowance within days(?).
    But these bastards would find loop holes or get the Owen Patterson treatment.
    So just ban it as we have (almost) all been saying for years. No more glacial change, just ban it.

  6. To be honest, al it would be doing is recovering some of the tax avoided by the setting up ownership of these estates through offshore companies based in tax havens. It certainly won’t cover the cost of the carbon released by burning and destroying peat, removing trees and scrub, and the consequent down-moor flooding damages or the required water treatments etc.

    1. Well said Circus maxima.
      Taxing for wrongdoing, will not deter the shooting industry. They will pay up and carry on doing whatever they want to do.
      Criminal activity will carry on and polluting the atmosphere and the ground they shoot over is of no concern to the grouse killers. If they have to pay a little more to do their dirty deeds, then so what?

  7. Fine in theory, but I suspect that that is as good as it gets – for the various reasons already mentioned. There’s only one answer and everyone knows what it is.

  8. A good idea in principle, which might deter some of the burning, and encourage reforestation. There is no need for this to be complicated or expensive to administer as suggested by the Scottish Land & Estates. It could simply be based on data from aerial surveys which indicated how much heather was subject to burning, or how much forest/woodland/scrubland had been planted.

    However, I think it would be better if any proposals to impose taxation on grouse moors was part of a broader licensing scheme, which could provide financial penalties for those estates which engage in poor land management practices, or illegal activity in order to maximize grouse numbers, or fail to set aside some parts of the moor for woodland and biodiversity regeneration.

    For most landowners and estates, grouse moors are a business. To use, or perhaps in this case, misuse the expression- “follow the money”. For these businesses to succeed and survive they have to generate revenue and be profitable. I would suggest many of the ills associated with commercial grouse moors are due to the owners, and those managing the moors pursuing financial gain through game shooting activities.

    I would welcome any measures which reduce financial gain where it is based on poor environmental practices, lack of biodiversity or illegal activities, particularly raptor persecution.

    It would be nice if there was a range of measures which could be implemented to make badly managed grouse moors such a financial burden that the land owner/estate management company was forced to sell.

    But after some items recently in the news, I don’t think the current government in Westminster will introduce such reforms. More likely, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more public money being given to the governments land owing friends, perhaps under some “heather burning, and replantation” wheeze??!!
    Who knows what secret lobbying takes place???
    Maybe I am getting my news stories muddled, but I would suggest some have mistakenly taken COP26 to mean “corruption of politicians” rather than anything to do with tackling climate change????!!!!!
    I wait with baited breath to see what announcements are made after the Conference finishes!!

    1. I really like the idea of assessing grouse moors for their potential contribution to the flooding of homes, businesses and better quality farmland downstream – and reducing that risk by changing the ‘management’ regime (block drainage, restrict/end muirburn) and adding new measures such as targeted planting of trees on contours and along watercourses, the addition of woody material to those same watercourses to form leaky dams that will hold back more water in high flows. Of course to also review the potential for return of the beaver. That this should be one of the conditions having to be met to obtain the proposed operator’s licence for grouse shooting was the subject of this Scotgov petition, it would be very hard to argue that keeping family homes dry should be compromised for bigger grouse bags, politically suicidal in fact.

      Given the utterly astronomical cost of flooding – it’s easy to see how the 2005 Carlisle flood caused more than £400,000,000 worth of damage when the average cost per damaged property is in excess of £30,000 – I would strongly suggest it’s worth experimenting with the practicality of providing upland beavers with supplementary feed and dam building materials while newly planted trees are still growing to the point where they can become beaver fodder. Absolutely no reason why this couldn’t be trialled on grouse moors and in fact given the supposed increased fire risk their owners claim will occur from cutting back on muirburn then the beavers will create fantastic firebreaks so fire as well as flood risk is reduced. The beaver is a phenomenally problematic animal for driven grouse shooting, excellent for helping other wildlife and people, not for the crappy status quo.

      It was very frustrating to watch the recent TV reports about flooding in Annan and hear flood defences and climate change being mentioned in response, but not one single word about the contribution from certain types of land management and how others would reduce it. Those of us who have a reasonably clear idea of how land use effects flood risk are obviously in a wee bubble separate from the rest of the public even when it’s their very own homes and jobs at risk. Organisations like the RSPB, and the Woodland Trust really should be doing more to highlight this to the public who otherwise are being left in the dark.

      1. “Organisations like the RSPB, and the Woodland Trust really should be doing more to highlight this to the public who otherwise are being left in the dark”

        I have written twice to the WWF, as a member(!), complaining about their unqualified adulation of the Duke of Edinburgh.   I mentioned every possible adverse effect of Grouse shooting (and shooting in general), including upland management of shooting estates leading to flooding and increased emissions of CO2.

        The WWF have featured quite strongly with COP26, including expensive TV appeals for money featuring the effects of climate change, yet they have simply declined to answer my emails.

        Not a peep.

        I assume that the WWF are not in the slightest bit interested in any change.

        1. I sympathise! With the possible exception of culling red deer to save motorist’s lives as well as restore forest, there can’t be any lower hanging fruit for the conservation community to pick than flood prevention of the economically productive lowlands by rewilding the economically poor uplands with trees and reintroduced species especially the beaver. Putting in trees and creating leaky dams helps reduce flooding in itself, but add beavers to this and you’re turbo charging the potential for keeping families, businesses and good farmland dry. The beaver SHOULD be acting as a catalyst to get trees and more wildlife on our hills especially on grouse moors where there’s absolutely no legitimate reason for not letting them get on with what they do, but this opportunity is being lost because for some strange reason conservation bodies are keeping quiet. They seem to be worried about not rocking the boat with a tiny minority when potentially, literally millions of people would be furious (and call for change) at how flood prevention is being sacrificed for among other things shooting lots of grouse for fun.

          1. ” this opportunity is being lost because for some strange reason conservation bodies are keeping quiet”

            I did pointedly ask whether any of their Board Members were (closet) shooters, themselves – but since they are refusing to respond, they kept quiet about that, as well.

  9. Excellent proposal. I did suggest a sporting land tax in an government consultation- £50.00/ ha might be a good starting point. It would need to be large enough to make rich eyes water. However schemes like that must not burden deer management for habitat objectives. That would stop landscape restoration efforts.

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