Time for private land owners to be praised: Our letter to the Times

Letter sent to The Times on Thursday 5 July 2018


In written evidence to a 2016 Parliamentary Committee, the RSPB stated that moorland drains were “cut in the 60s and 70s to improve grazing” for sheep. It is bizarre that they should now suggest that gamekeepers dug these drains for their grouse (RSPB accuses gamekeepers of deliberately drying land, July 5). MPs and conservationists alike will feel their attempt to perpetuate this myth is gratuitously misleading. It is equally unfortunate that the RSPB cannot recall their praise for grouse moor owners in resisting grants, from successive governments, to drain their land and plant commercial forestry blocks on what is now recognised as a globally rare habitat. It is time for the commitments made by these private land owners to be recognised, rather than demonised.

Andrew Gilruth
Director of communications at GWCT

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RSPB think they know better than the land owners

at 14:24 on 18/07/2018 by S Martin

You would think by now that the RSPB would hesitate before blaming land owners for others actions, How about the many times RSPB has been blundering about for weeks or months trying to rid islands of rats to save ground nesting bird colonies? One or two land owners and their canny terriers did the job without any fanfare in each case. Arm chair conservationists are a menace. They should do their homework (and fieldwork) before making accusations.


at 16:01 on 10/07/2018 by William Gascoigne

Don’t forget most of what Farmers and Landowners are blamed for doing in the past by RSPB and other people and bodies largely ignorant of the facts.... was actually Government Policy at the time and anyone who DIDN’T toe the line was made to feel a pariah by MAFF etc! It is only the few, who resisted and stuck to their convictions who are now being praised as having been far sighted....& their attempts at ‘conservation’ largely privately financed, far out perform anything the committee lead PSPB could ever achieve... but are largely sneered at and derided! So many people in this PC world simply can’t bear that Landowners often actually manage their land better than anyone else .... but when faced with the ‘Private Land Ownership is Theft’ argument no one is ever going to give credit, where credit is due! WHCG

The question of Moorland Balance and the RSPB.

at 12:58 on 10/07/2018 by Alec Swan

There was a time when the RSPB were considered an august body and they were, then, highly respected. Then they and others too donned the hat of the fundraiser and to achieve the returns they needed so they needed to champion a cause and to advise their benefactors that it was they and they alone, with their curiously and poorly thought through theories who were the champions of bird life preservation. Nothing could be further from the truth. It saddens me to see the RSPB become the joke that they are, truly it does.

Saddleworth Moor

at 12:34 on 10/07/2018 by C.J.Staples

Have RSPB ignored that arsonists set fire to Saddleworth Moor and not the gamekeepers ? Similarly the ongoing fire at Ben Bhraggie, Golspie in Sutherland was set alight by arsonists in a plantation at midnight on Friday 6th July which spread extensively to moorland that's not managed for grouse. The local estate keepers were working through the ensuing nights along with the fire service to put it out.

moorland drainage ditches.

at 11:23 on 10/07/2018 by John Coulson

For information Owners of upland areas were paid subsidies by MAFF for drainage ditching. From memory it was 70% of cost. Many contractors placed the ditches slightly further apart and smart owners had ditching carried out entirely paid by MAFF. At the time, I enquired from MAFF as to the justification of ditching moorland deep peat. The response was that this had been successful on a trial on lowland bogs (some in Wales), converting it to good quality grazing for cattle. They never tested in the uplands! Dr Butterfield and I investigated the impact of such ditches at Moor House and at Muggleswick (Co Durham). The effect on the water table ranged only about half a metre below each ditch (and none above) at Moor House, but had a greater effect at Muggleswick (which had a lower rainfall) and encouraged Calluna.

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