That backfired! Labour gets roasting from countryside groups after declaring war on grouse shooting as season started on the Glorious 12th
- Party claimed benefits of hunting grouse are outweighed by environmental cost
- Draining moors for shooting season destroys plantlife and wildlife, Labour says
- Added that ‘simulated shooting and wildlife tourism’ could replace grouse hunts
- Countryside Alliance said it was ‘thinly veiled political attack on grouse shooting’
Countryside groups yesterday dismissed Labour’s calls for a review of grouse shooting as a ‘thinly veiled political attack’.
The party has claimed the financial benefits of hunting grouse are outweighed by the environmental cost.
Draining moors in preparation for the shooting season, which began yesterday on the ‘Glorious 12th’ of August, destroys plantlife and wildlife, Labour argues.
The Labour Party has claimed the financial benefits of hunting grouse (pictured) are outweighed by the environmental cost
The party added that ‘simulated shooting and wildlife tourism’ could replace grouse hunting.
But the Countryside Alliance has said it was ‘extraordinary’ that Labour had launched a ‘thinly veiled political attack on grouse shooting’ during ‘the present political turmoil’.
It added an independent review would be welcomed as it would highlight the benefits of shooting.
The party (leader Jeremy Corbyn pictured) added that ‘simulated shooting and wildlife tourism’ could replace grouse hunting
Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said: ‘The costs of grouse shooting on our environment and wildlife need to be properly weighed up against the benefit of landowners profiting from shooting parties.
‘For too long the Tories have bent the knee to landowners and it’s our environment and our people who pay the price.
‘There are viable alternatives to grouse shooting such as simulated shooting and wildlife tourism. The time has come for a proper review.’
Burning heather on grouse moors releases 260,000 tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to the Committee on Climate Change, the Government’s advisory body.
Conservationists also claim mountain hares and wild birds such as hen harriers, red kites and golden eagles are killed illegally to protect grouse.
But Adrian Blackmore, the Countryside Alliance’s director of shooting, said: ‘Those with any knowledge of grouse shooting and its associated management will know some of the claims being made by Labour are nonsense. If an independent review would help increase Labour’s understanding of its considerable environmental, economic and social benefits, then it should be welcomed.’
Mr Blackmore said 70 per cent of England’s upland Sites of Special Scientific Interest are managed grouse moors.
But the Countryside Alliance has said it was ‘extraordinary’ that Labour had launched a ‘thinly veiled political attack on grouse shooting’ during ‘the present political turmoil’
More than 40 per cent of grouse moors are designated as Special Protection Areas for rare birds and Special Areas of Conservation for rare vegetation, the highest designations under EU wildlife directives.
Duncan Thomas, a regional director at the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said he was confident any review would show the benefits of a well-run grouse moor.
‘Grouse moors are biodiverse and the shoots create vital employment in isolated rural areas,’ he added.
The Countryside Alliance added an independent review would be welcomed as it would highlight the benefits of shooting
Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Grouse moor management is a friend of the environment, not the enemy.
‘Seventy-five per cent of the heather moorland of the world is in Britain. It provides food for birds of prey when managed for grouse shooting, the management prevents wildfires.
‘The abundance of breeding waders is bucking the trends elsewhere. The management also supports rural businesses.’
Grouse moors cover around 550,000 acres in England and Scotland.
Officials said protecting moorland and the hen harrier were government priorities.
Driven grouse shooting involves a row of ‘beaters’ walking and pushing the birds towards a line of shooters concealed in sunken butts.
Labour also said that the ten largest English grouse moors were paid more than £3million in farm subsidies last year.
Grouse shooting at Balmoral is cancelled after bird numbers decline
by Sami Quadri and Colin Fernandez
Sport: Kate Middleton out shooting in Scotland in 2009
It is a long-held tradition in the royal calendar on the Queen’s 50,000-acre Scottish estate.
But grouse shooting has been cancelled at Balmoral this year due to a fall in bird numbers.
Yesterday was the ‘Glorious 12th’ of August – the start of the grouse hunting season.
Shooting grouse is relished by the Royal Family on their summer holidays at Balmoral but heavy snowfall at the end of last year – followed by a dry and humid start to this summer – has reduced game bird breeding.
An estate source said: ‘Grouse numbers go up and down but this year they have plummeted.
‘There probably will be no grouse shooting on Balmoral this season. It’s very disappointing. There is still [deer] stalking.’ Other popular activities at Balmoral include horse-riding, picnics and country walks.
One person who may not be disappointed is the Duchess of Sussex, who is no shooting fan.
But Meghan did attend a lunch following a pheasant shoot at the Queen’s estate in Sandringham, Norfolk, which scotched rumours she had banned her husband Prince Harry from shooting.