Politicians will soon be debating a petition launched by Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery of Wild Justice, titled ‘Ban Driven Grouse Shooting - Wilful blindness is no longer an option.’
If you’re getting déjà vu, don’t worry. The same thing happened in October 2016 when 21 MPs debated a similar petition, supported by Eduardo Gonçalves, then CEO of League Against Cruel Sports, and the TV presenters Chris Packham and Bill Oddie. In that debate, no MPs spoke in support of a ban and nine MPs cited GWCT science.
This time around we will be providing politicians and journalists with briefing documents in advance to ensure they have the facts to hand. We’ll also send them copies of our in-depth Peatland Report and The Moorland Balance, our 132-page book on the science behind moorland management citing 229 scientific papers.
We will also be following the debate live and looking out for any statements that stray from the facts. We did the same during the debate about moorland burning last November. When Olivia Blake MP asked, “Is the hon. Member aware of some the most recent research, which shows that 68% of wildfires in the higher uplands have actually been caused by so-called controlled cold fires?”, we studied the facts and found the claim to be misleading.
We have produced briefings on the key issues likely to be discussed:
You can also download all of these documents in one handy PDF here.
When the government first responded to this petition in September 2019, it stated that “Grouse shooting is a legitimate activity providing benefits for wildlife and habitat conservation and investment in remote areas …. The Government appreciates that many people hold strong views on the issue of driven grouse shooting. The Government considers that shooting activities bring many benefits to the rural economy and can in many cases be beneficial for wildlife and habitat conservation. We recognise that it is vital that wildlife and habitats are respected and protected and the law is respected. We will continue work to ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation. The Government has no plans to ban grouse shooting”.
This response was labelled ‘pathetic and derisory’ by Chris Packham when the government invited him to discuss the petition with Kerry McCarthy MP, vice-president of the League Against Cruel Sports. In the conversation, which you can still watch on the government’s YouTube channel, McCarthy says there is ‘something quite unnatural’ about brood management, states that ‘it's no coincidence that at least one of the areas where the petition attracted a lot of signatures was Calder Valley and that's been prone to flooding’ and reassures the TV presenter that ‘if we hadn't been cut short by the election, you may well have got more signatures.’
Hopefully there will be a more robust and evidence-led discussion soon. Be sure to keep an eye on our website, as there will be plenty more to come.