Fresh burning on Walshaw Moor blanket bog – 2 fingers to us down in the valley

Members of Upper Calderdale Wildlife Group, who monitor Walshaw Moor Estate’s  “management” of protected blanket bog for its intensive grouse shooting business, reported on 16 February that they had a few hours up Walshaw, and saw that heather burning was going on.

North East to old dike hill16 02 2016_Lores at 14.58,

The Wildlife Group is a partner in the SOURCE project that promotes natural flood management (NFM) to help slow runoff from the upland catchment.

The Walshaw Moor Estate owner Richard Bannister is under obligation to Restore the moorland, for which he is paid £106,289.50/year for the ten years from 2012-2022.

This Restoration of moorland option is part of the £2.5m  Walshaw Moor Estate Environmental Stewardship Agreement (ESA).

The Restoration of moorland option:

“aims to restore moorland where not all habitat is in good condition…In addition, it may, in the right situation, provide an area of flood storage and some benefits to flood risk management.”

The WME ESA says that this will be judged to be  successful if all Site of Special Scientific Interest land is in favourable or recovering condition.

The Restoration of moorland option applies to five parcels of land, each identified by the Rural Land Register field number, where there are Upland Heath and Blanket bog habitats.

Walshaw Moor Estate burning breaks conditions of its Restoration of moorland obligation

Among other conditions, the Restoration of moorland option prohibits burning that damages moss, some other plants and exposes or breaks the peat surface:

“There must be no signs of burning into the moss, lichen or liverwort layer, or exposure or breaking of the peat surface due to burning.”

However, a visit to Walshaw Moor Estate with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett shortly after the Boxing Day floods found that fresh burning had exposed and broken the peat surface.

Another element of the Walshaw Moor Estate Environmental Stewardship Agreement is the Uplands Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Scheme. This pays Walshaw Moor Estate £88,004/year for 10 years to manage land according to specified environmental standards, in return for a set payment per hectare. The Uplands ELS scheme includes a range of options that farmers/landowners can sign up to. I don’t know what Uplands ELS options Walshaw Moor Estate is carrying out,  but possible options include:

  • maintaining and improving biodiversity
  • protecting natural resources such as soil and water
  • providing and protecting carbon storage in blanket bogs and improving overall water retention

Even permitted cool burning increases flash flooding risk in valleys

Research by the Leeds University EMBER project (Effects of Moorland Burning on the Ecohydrology of River Basins) shows that even so-called ‘cool burning’ that is permitted on protected blanket bogs like Walshaw Moor, has the effect of increasing run off from the moorland during the heaviest 20% of rainfall, so contributing to flash flooding in the valleys.

A member of Upper Calderdale Wildlife Group who witnessed this week’s burning by Walshaw Moor Estate said:

“Bannister obviously takes his actions very seriously!!! There has been plenty of Burning Off recently, if this isn’t 2 Fingers up to all us down in the Valley I don’t know what is!!”

13 thoughts on “Fresh burning on Walshaw Moor blanket bog – 2 fingers to us down in the valley

  1. Just a thought – why not go up on to the moors and block some drainage ditches? Film it being done, (not getting any faces in the film) and post to Youtube. Then share, share, share.

  2. Jenny and others. I have some confidence that the Flood Commission WILL conclude with a series of sound recommendations about this and reservoir management etc. I suggest you and others submit this as evidence to that commission . The HB Partnership evidence to the Commission will call for a change in the law regarding the regulation of this issue.

    • Thanks Bob, I’m interested to know what change in the law HB Partnership is proposing because as I understand it, there are already plenty of laws covering this issue – the problem is they’re not enforced, which is why Ban the Burn and the RSPB have asked the EU Commission to get the UK government to enforce them, since they derive from EU Directives on Habitat and Wildlife protection.Also, I have to say I’m sceptical that a Commission entirely without any powers is going to be able to do anything about any recommendations it makes, however sensible.

    • Bob,it’s all good and well having sound recommendations,but who is going to Implement them ? Natural England/ Defra !! Meanwhile Mr Bannister continues to Trash Our Uplands.This Burning Off as been continuing since last October,and will probably continue on to Late March or Early April ! Any Organisation other than the Driven Grouse Shooting Industry would be Dragged Across Hot Coals for the DESTRUCTION of our Uplands that is going on at present.but what do we do ! Pay Huge Sums of Money to the Perpetrator to Carry On !!!

  3. Yes,it,s business as usual up on the Walshaw estate.There is no sign that the bad publicity and pressure that is on Mr Bannister is having any effect.What he doesn’t realise is the strength of feeling and impetus that is now behind the call to stop this alarming and devastating damage that the management of driven Grouse shooting moors is causing.
    We keep the pressure up through contacting our M.P,newspapers,social media and of course Defra and Natural England most importantly.The arrogance of the Grouse shooting industry is appalling.

  4. It’s no good writing to Craig Whitaker as they are mates and he won’t take any bloody notice. This guy doesn’t get what living in this valley is about (well, he doesn’t live here really does he?) and Lord Saville must be turning in his grave at what’s happening now.

    • Craig Whitaker is on record as saying recently that there is a need to manage the uplands in ways that reduce flood risk in the valley. So he needs to be held to his statement and to be seen to act on it.

      • if you get one of Craig Whittaker’s automatic replies as you will,if he doesn’t respond again send him another saying he hasn’t responded and you want a reply.Unfortunately the pressure has to be kept up.He will not be comfortable ignoring his own statements continually.

    • Asking Natural England to enforce the terms of the Walshaw Moor Estate Environmental Stewardship Agreement would be a good start. Write to your MP and Councillors. etc