Walshaw Moor Estate resumes burning – despite flood risk to Hebden Bridge

As is by now widely known, Walshaw Moor Estate’s annual burning on the protected “Natura 2000” uplands creates an increased risk of flooding in Calder Valley towns.

This is responsible for around 2.5-5% of the peak flow in Hebden Bridge during floods – roughly the difference between over-topping flood barriers in shop and home doorways, and staying below that level.

The evidence comes in a new study by Dr Nicholas A. Odoni, Honorary Fellow, Department of Geography, Durham University. This shows that the best way of managing the moors in order to reduce the peak flow at Hebden Bridge is to eliminate burning and conserve and restore Sphagnum.

The study found that burning ANY patches on Walshaw Moor Estate (WME) increases the flow peak at Hebden Bridge – meaning that burning should be banned everywhere on WME, not just on blanket bog and deep peat.

I informed WME about this, and asked them to mow rather than burn heather, to avoid increasing peak flows in the valley. They replied that they are,

“currently reviewing practice on the estate to see if we can assist in the reduction of downstream flooding”.

But on 10th October, WME resumed burning – on at least six areas at one time.

Next week, on 18th October, the House of Commons is hearing evidence about grouse shooting, before it sets a date for the MPs’ debate on banning grouse shooting, in response to the 123K plus people who signed the Ban Grouse Shooting petition.

When posting a comment, please will you not swear if you’d like the comment to be published? This is because of Plain Speaker’s comments policy which is to try and be normally courteous. Although I fully understand – and share – the impulse to swear about this.

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Posted from London, England, United Kingdom.

8 thoughts on “Walshaw Moor Estate resumes burning – despite flood risk to Hebden Bridge

  1. Sorry. . . But these managed grouse moors make up a a small proportion of the total acreage in the area. No matter what kind of moorland the water lands upon, it’s all going downhill. I live 1200ft up in Cragg Vale and have been completely flooded TWICE and I am nowhere near a managed grouse moor. Wish people would take a minute to look at the bigger picture without jumping on this ill informed bandwagon.

    • Thank you for your comment Ben. No one is saying that all flooding is due to the mismanagement of the grouse moor on Walshaw Moor Estate. That would clearly be daft. What is being said, with solid scientific backup, is that mismanagement of the grouse moor on Walshaw Moor Estate significantly increases the peak flow in Hebden Water during floods. That is clearly stated in the article.

  2. This is terrible. We have been through a disaster. Why are they allowed to ‘contribute’ to flood risk. Perhaps they should pay 2% of the damaged caused. Many people have lost homes and businesses, some having them compulsory purchased. It should have been reported and reassessed – at least by the enviroment agency. This practice should be banned until such time when the infrastructure can cope with this addtional flow. So many are suffering loss of home and income so a few can practice shooting birds. Outrageous. Frances

  3. The people of Calderdale who are at risk from flooding need to keep up pressure on our M.P Craig Whittaker to address the growing concerns about the management of Walshaw estate.Mr Richard Bannister who owns it needs to prove that he has the residents of the Calder valley’s best interests at heart.After various approaches he has done nothing but continue burning and continues to put our communities at risk.

      • I was there at the debate and was very disappointed in the low quality of all the Tory MPs’ statements. That includes Craig Whittaker MP who went out of his way to insult us, his constituents. However he did say that it would be better for more of the heather to be mowed rather than burned – so under cover of all the ritual insults he does seem to have accepted some of what we are pushing for. Which is at least some kind of a start.