Grouse Shooting

Robbie Moore Excerpts
Monday 21st June 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Robbie Moore Portrait Robbie Moore (Keighley) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms McDonagh. Thank you for giving me permission to be excused at the start of the debate—I was in the main Chamber speaking on a private Member’s Bill.

The petition states:

“grouse shooting is bad for people, the environment and wildlife”,

while arguing that it is “economically insignificant”. I am afraid I must dispute that in the strongest terms, and I will outline my reasons. Just last year, Professor Simon Denny and Tracey Latham-Green of the Institute of Social Innovation and Impact at the University of Northampton concluded an economic study looking at the social effects of integrated moorland management, including grouse shooting, on moorland communities, and I want to share some of their findings.

First, on the positive impact of grouse shooting on the rural economy, the direct economic benefit of grouse shooting to rural communities is estimated to be £67.7 million per annum. The direct impact is thought to be as high as £2 billion to the country. In England, grouse moor management is responsible for more than 1,500 full-time jobs, of which 700 are directly involved in grouse moor management, and a further 820 are in related services and industries. That has a huge impact on remote rural communities, which would otherwise have limited economic opportunity.

Research has shown that the associated spin-offs of grouse shooting in the north of England are worth an estimated £15 million a year and benefit a raft of rural businesses, including game dealers, the hospitality industry, equipment suppliers and transport operators, many of whom are based in the most remote areas. As one of the joint authors of the report concluded,

“grouse moor management is part of an integrated system of activities”,

including a whole range of things benefiting health, wellbeing and the economic prosperity of local communities.

That brings me to my second point, on the positive impact on moorland management of grouse shooting, and on wider conservation measures, which include peatland restoration, carbon sequestration and improving habitats for many other ground-nesting birds. More carbon is stored in peat in UK moorlands than in the combined forests of Britain and France. Therefore, careful management of moorland as part of grouse moorland management is essential to preserve the carbon that is locked up in the underlying peat. Grouse moorland managers have been actively working on a number of projects, including revegetating bare peat and blocking up moorland drains to raise water tables to encourage the growth of sphagnum moss, which helps the flow of surface water and filters out any discolouration. In the north Pennines alone, I know from my own experience that grouse moor managers have blocked more than 2,500 miles of drain ditches, and 300 acres of bare peat have been revegetated, with plenty more still planned.

Research has shown that where moors are managed by groundkeepers, ground-nesting birds, such as curlew and lapwings, are three and a half times as likely to raise a chick to fledgling. A survey of upland breeding birds in parts of England and Scotland has found that the densities of golden plover, curlew, redshank and lapwing are five times greater on managed grouse moorlands than on unmanaged moor. As my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) said, the mosaic of species of flora and fauna is widely known on managed grouse moorland. All of that is possible only where moorland is carefully managed, with the income gained from grouse shooting put back into helping to cover the costs associated with managing the land, protecting that carbon storage.

To conclude, it is vital to take a wide-lens approach to grouse shooting, rather than look at it from a headline political point of view. It creates jobs and is good for the rural economy, the environment, conservation and carbon storage.

Siobhain McDonagh Portrait Siobhain McDonagh (in the Chair)
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I would like to offer Mr Djanogly two minutes.