Grouse moor burning ban on the cards – but not yet say Calderdale Council

It is in line with Government’s announced intention to end the practice.

A ban on grouse moor burning in Calderdale looks set to be on the way – but it will have to get the approval of the full council.

Calderdale’s ruling Labour Group have agreed to the move as voluntary moves to scale the process back have not proved 100 per cent successful.

Cabinet member for Climate Change and the Enviroment, Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said unique circumstances in Calderdale, which has suffered three major floods in eight years, with natural flood management a growing component of flood alleviation work, were part of the reasoning for the group’s decision.

It is also in line with Government’s announced intention to end the practice, says the Labour Group, which has a majority on the council.

Coun Patient said although it was hoped legislation could be produced promptly, the proposals would need to be supported by the full council.

Full council meetings are only set to resume later in the summer although committee and Cabinet meetings have been running sucessfully in virtual form, vecause of the COVID-19 pandemic, on the council’s YouTube channel since late April.

Coun Patient indicated approval was likely to come down the line from that.

He also stressed the group did not think all moorland burning was down to grouse shooting ownerships and the proposal did not just relate to that – there had been incidents where people had taken barbecues onto moorland risking starting fires.

It was also important to recognise good partnership work being done between landowners and partners to help mitigate flood risk and move towards less environmentally damage cutting of the moorland, he said.

This was because moorland burning had a broad range of ecological impacts including degrading peatlands, releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere and, if fires from whatever source burned out of control, it put pressure on the fire service, risked damaging habitat and could impact on communities’ flood resilience, said Coun Patient.

“There has been an attempt, through voluntary initiatives, to scale back – to reduce and eventually eliminate – the burning of fragile and important peat ecosystems, but that has not proven 100 per cent successful as had been hoped.

“The council’s leading group welcomes the Government’s decision to legislate to end burning because the alternative approach of voluntary arrangements simply has not worked,” he said.

Burning heather on the moorland is done to encourage new shoots, on which grouse feed, to come through, engineering an optimal breeding habitat for the game birds, says the Labour Group proposals.

Campaigners who are opposed to grouse shooting have welcomed the move.

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