Coun­try­side unites to see off bid to ban driven grouse shoot­ing

Shooting Gazette - - Shoot briefing news -

The gov­ern­ment has dis­missed calls for driven grouse shoot­ing to be banned fol­low­ing a de­bate at West­min­ster Hall on Oc­to­ber 31.

The de­bate, in­tro­duced by Steve Dou­ble MP and chaired by Phillip Davies MP, was trig­gered fol­low­ing the sign­ing of a 123,077-strong e-pe­ti­tion raised by for­mer RSPB con­ser­va­tion di­rec­tor Mark Avery ear­lier this year. Though not part of any leg­isla­tive process, the de­bate pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity for those in­volved in and af­fected by driven grouse shoot­ing to have their side of the ar­gu­ment heard. A range of is­sues in­clud­ing heather burn­ing and the hen har­rier ac­tion plan were dis­cussed dur­ing the three-hour-long ses­sion.

MPS in­clud­ing Sir Ni­cholas Soames, Coun­try­side Al­liance chair­man Si­mon Hart and Jim Shan­non turned out in force for the de­bate, backed by ev­i­dence from lead­ing ru­ral bod­ies and from a wide range of stake­hold­ers whose liveli­hoods are af­fected by driven grouse shoot­ing. Of all MPS who spoke not one called for the sport to be banned.

Dur­ing the de­bate the Par­lia­men­tary Un­der Sec­re­tary of State at DEFRA, Dr Thérèse Cof­fey, said: "This is not a bi­nary de­bate. The gov­ern­ment wants to see a vi­brant work­ing coun­try­side that is en­hanced by a bio­di­verse en­vi­ron­ment. The up­lands are a trea­sured as­set prized by peo­ple for their tran­quil­lity, quiet en­joy­ment, in­spi­ra­tional na­ture and recre­ation. They are also a vi­tal source for goods and ser­vices, par­tic­u­larly food and drink­ing wa­ter, and make a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to over­all live­stock pro­duc­tion in the UK.

“Cen­tral to the pro­vi­sion of ser­vices and as­sets that the up­lands pro­vide is the ac­tive man­age­ment of the land by farm­ers, landown­ers and land man­agers. Suc­cess­ful up­land pol­icy is de­pen­dent on up­land com­mu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly farm­ers and land man­agers, whose ru­ral busi­nesses are fun­da­men­tal to the ru­ral econ­omy and whose role in man­ag­ing the land in the long term will ul­ti­mately de­ter­mine the value of the en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes.”

Fol­low­ing the de­bate, a spokesman for the NGO said: “On be­half of our mem­bers through­out the up­lands, we would like to thank sin­cerely all those many MPS who took the time and trou­ble to de­mol­ish the ar­gu­ments of those who ar­gued for a ban. Grouse shoot­ing, quite lit­er­ally, held the high ground in the de­bate, in both the weight of the ev­i­dence and the strength of the science that were put for­ward to sup­port the prac­tice of driven grouse shoot­ing. It was a tour de force in the demon­stra­tion of a foren­sic dis­sec­tion of a weak and ill-judged pe­ti­tion.”

Peter Glenser, the chair­man of BASC, said: “BASC was de­lighted by the qual­ity of the well-in­formed de­bate and very grate­ful to all those who en­sured that MPS un­der­stood the truth. In par­tic­u­lar, a num­ber of other ru­ral or­gan­i­sa­tions worked tire­lessly in the months lead­ing up to the ev­i­dence hear­ing and this week’s de­bate and they should be con­grat­u­lated for their ef­forts.

“We should make no bones about it; shoot­ing, not just grouse shoot­ing, was un­der at­tack in the build up to this de­bate. But it was in­spir­ing to see the way those who live and work within in the coun­try­side, and those with a pas­sion for the coun­try­side, united to fight off this at­tack.”

Liam Stokes, head of shoot­ing cam­paigns at the Coun­try­side Al­liance, said: “We’re pleased the gov­ern­ment has ac­knowl­edged the value of grouse shoot­ing and I know that all those in­volved in grouse shoot­ing will be heart­ened by the over­whelm­ing sup­port from Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans.

“Where there are is­sues that need ad­dress­ing in man­ag­ing our up­lands the an­swer is co­op­er­a­tion within up­land com­mu­ni­ties to find so­lu­tions, not un­jus­ti­fied leg­is­la­tion im­posed from West­min­ster. This cam­paign against grouse shoot­ing has been un­nec­es­sar­ily di­vi­sive, driv­ing wedges be­tween groups that should be work­ing to­gether. We are all united in our de­sire to see an end to the il­le­gal killing of rap­tors, and must speak with one voice say­ing that even one oc­cur­rence is too many. Ev­ery­one now needs to put this ac­ri­mony be­hind us and fo­cus on work­ing to­gether to de­liver the best pos­si­ble out­comes for moor­land species and com­mu­ni­ties.”

MPS de­fended the so­cial, eco­log­i­cal and eco­nomic ben­e­fits of driven grouse shoot­ing.

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