Labour urges Tories to launch review of grouse shooting amid climate and animal welfare fears

Posted On: 
12th August 2019

Labour have demanded a review into grouse shooting over growing concerns at the practice’s impact on climate change.

The demand from Labour comes on the first day of the four-month grouse shooting season.

Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman said alternatives such as simulated shooting or wildlife tourism should be considered to reduce the impact to the environment from “driven” grouse shoots.

Over 550,000 acres - equivalent to the size of Greater London - are covered by grouse moors, with much of the land drained and dried out each year to prepare for the shooting season, the party claimed.

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But according to evidence highlighted by Ms Hayman, the practice causes significant damage to animal life while also contributing to global warming by destroying carbon-absorbing plantlife and peat moors.

Announcing the plans on the first day of the four-month grouse shooting season, Ms Hayman pledged the next Labour government would launch the review if ministers fail to act before the next general election.

“The costs of grouse shooting on our environment and wildlife needs to be properly weighed up against the benefit of land owners from shooting parties,” she said.

“For too long the Tories have bent the knee to land owners and it’s our environment and our people who pay the price

“There are viable alternative to grouse shooting such as simulated shooting and wildlife tourism. The time has come for a proper review into the practice.”

The proposed review, which will be included in the party’s new animal welfare manifesto, would also investigate illegal culling of other animals including mountain hares and hen harriers ahead of the shooting season.

In August 2018, then-Environment Secretary Michael Gove had urged the owners of moorland estates to voluntarily end the practice after the European Commission mulled a compulsory ban over concerns that burning heather to improve grouse numbers was disproportionately damaging the environment.

But according to Labour, ministers have continued to hand out farm subsidies of over £3m to England’s ten largest grouse moors.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been contacted for comment.