GWCT publishes its evidence for Westminster grouse enquiry

EvidenceWritten evidence

Following the Petitions Committee’s announcement that it will hold a debate on driven grouse shooting on 31 October, it asked for people to provide written evidence.

We understand that the committee has now received an impressive 500 submissions. Some of these have already been published here.

GWCT submission

Please do use this evidence to brief your local MP. In addition to this, there is a more detailed GWCT Q&A here.

1. Protecting habitat and species (page 3)
As a consequence of red grouse relying on heather as their primary food source, grouse shooting is the only management system that explicitly maintains and enhances one of the rarest habitats in the world: heather-dominated moorland.
Q: Do critics of grouse moor management agree that driven grouse moors have been successful in protecting these conservation priority habitats and species for the nation?

2. Sustainability (page 4)
Our moorlands are home to specialist flora and fauna and deliver a range of other public goods and services such as drinking water, carbon storage and recreation.
Q: Do the critics of grouse moor management accept that there is always a sustainability balance between environmental, social and economic considerations?

3. Funding for conservation (page 5)
This complex and wonderful moorland habitat is enjoyed by millions of visitors each year, but it is on grouse moors, invariably as a result of the private investment, that they will see high numbers of curlew and other threatened species.
Q: A ban on driven grouse shooting would result in a drop in the private investment in conservation by moor owners. Those proposing the ban should be challenged to explain how much additional government or charitable funding would be required.

4. Alternative land uses (page 6)
It is unlikely that these unique habitats and upland bird populations can be maintained at current levels, along with local economic and social factors without driven grouse shooting.
Q: Those proposing changes to ban or restrict driven grouse shooting should be challenged to produce evidence of the net gain that the alternative land uses they propose will bring to society – economic, social and environmental.

5. Selective use of evidence (page 8)
The evidence for many of the criticisms made of red grouse shooting is far from clear, accurate or balanced. Further research, over the medium to long term, is required.
Q: Supporters of a ban on driven grouse shooting should be challenged to explain the clear imbalance in their evidence. Secondly there is a failure to recognise the associated risks that may result from changes in practice.

6. Additional regulation (page 10)
The Defra hen harrier management plan and brood management scheme does address the conflict and should be given a chance to work where legislation has failed.
Q: What measurable outcomes are those proposing greater regulation trying to achieve, and why do they feel the extensive existing regulation can’t achieve them?

7. Finding working solutions (page 10)
Trialling Defra’s proposed remedy to the hen harrier conflict is critical. Without the incentive of grouse shooting there is little motivation to maintain our heather moorlands, as evidenced on Welsh moorland when driven grouse shooting ended.
Q: Are those calling for the banning or licensing of grouse moors to protect birds of prey more focused on processes than a workable solution?

Oral evidence

In addition to this written evidence, the committee held an oral evidence session yesterday. They heard evidence from: the petition creator; the RSPB; the Moorland Association and the Countryside Alliance. You can view the proceedings from Parliament TV here. There were about 40 people in the ‘public’ seats; there was room for more.

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What's inside your FREE guide

✓ Grouse shooting
✓ Conservation on grouse moors
✓ Heather burning
✓ Moorland drainage
✓ Disease control
✓ Upland predator control
✓ Hen harriers and red grouse
✓ Mountain hares and red grouse
✓ Alternative moorland use
✓ Commonly heard criticisms of driven grouse shooting

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