New moorland burning research vindicates #HebdenBridge Ban the Burn campaign

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The Moorland Burning Season started on October 1st and carries on until next April.

Over the last two years, Hebden Bridge-based group Ban the Burn has been challenging Natural England’s decision to allow the grouse-shooting Walshaw Moor Estate to burn moorland above the town.

The Estate does this in order to make conditions more suitable for raising red grouse – despite the fact that Walshaw Moor is a protected Natura 2000 Site – an area of peatland and blanket bog that is a site of special scientific interest and home to various plants and wildlife that are protected by law. Continue reading

Posted from Hebden Bridge, England, United Kingdom.

George Monbiot in the pulpit – rewilding is a source of hope and a challenge to the 1%

Joking that he felt like an old-time hell-fire preacher speaking from the pulpit of Hope Baptist Church, George Monbiot instead brought a vision of hope to the packed audience yesterday at Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

Launching a national rewilding group – name still to be decided – he extolled the delights of an environment where biodiverse plants, insects and animals flourish thanks to the reintroduction of keystone species at the top of the food chain – such as beavers, pine martins and wolves. Continue reading

Posted from Hebden Bridge, England, United Kingdom.

Natural England staff stay home to avoid Don’t Fund Flooding! protest

Ban the Burn protesters, bearing mops and buckets, visited the Head Office of Natural England this morning to deliver a clear message- DON’T FUND FLOODING – only to find that Natural England had advised staff to stay away from the office rather than face the protesters from Hebden Bridge, which suffered major flooding twice in the summer of 2012.

The protesters managed to hand over their petition to one remaining member of staff in the office.

The protesters wanted to tell Natural England that action on reducing run-off from the uplands is urgent, in order to minimise flood risk downstream.
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Posted from Hebden Bridge, England, United Kingdom.

Two cheers for Natural England’s plan to phase out blanket bog burning

Hebden Bridge flood activist group Ban the Burn has raised two cheers for Natural England’s new guidance that restoration of all degraded blanket bog is possible and that landowners should phase out blanket bog burning because of the damage it causes.

The group is sending Natural England its comments on the draft guidance, and hopes that as many people as possible who are affected by the way blanket bogs are managed will also read the draft guidance (embedded further down this page) and email their views in to Natural England.
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Posted from Hebden Bridge, England, United Kingdom.

Hebden Bridge residents will have opportunity to help develop new Uplands guidance

Last October over 90 Hebden Bridge residents signed a letter which the campaign group Ban the Burn sent as the residents’ submission to Natural England’s Uplands Evidence Review (UER).

The residents’ letter urged Natural England to ban burning and draining on Walshaw Moor Estate blanket bog, in order to allow degraded blanket bog to recover. Active blanket bog slows run off from the tops, and so has an significant role to play in reducing flooding in Hebden Bridge.
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Opportunity to raise Ban the Burn position at free Natural England workshop, Tuesday 29th Jan

Ban the Burn! members and supporters might like to attend the free South Pennines National Character Area Profiles Workshop. This Pennine Prospects/Natural England workshop is about how the South Pennines Watershed Landscape Project has been influenced by Natural England’s update of the South Pennines National Character Area (NCA) profile.

The workshop takes place on Tuesday 29th January, 10am-2pm, at Hebden Bridge Town Hall. It is free, with lunch provided, and open to all, but you need to book in advance by emailing robin.gray@pennineprospects.co.uk or phoning 01422 847612, or 07582 101319.

Speakers include Nancy Stedman, Natural England Senior Adviser and Robin Gray, Watershed Landscape Project Manager Continue reading

Ban the Burn takes blanket bog campaign to Brussels

The European Commission is to investigate the legality of Environmental Stewardship payments to Walshaw Moor Estate.

Hebden Bridge campaigners who want a ban on burning and draining blanket bog – a rare, priority protected habitat – are challenging the legality of a £2.5 million Environmental Stewardship Agreement (ESA) that Natural England has awarded the grouse-shooting Walshaw Moor Estate, part of the South Pennines Site of Special Scientific Interest and Natura 2000 site.

In Brussels on 10th January, Hebden Bridge resident Dongria Kondh asked Jean Francois Brakeland, head of the European Commission’s unit for enforcing EU environmental law in the UK, to investigate whether Natural England and the Defra Secretary of State acted unlawfully in deciding that Walshaw Moor Estate’s grouse shooting operations would not adversely affect the integrity of the protected moors. Continue reading

Posted from London, England, United Kingdom.

Defra wants your response to proposed merger of Natural England & Environment Agency

Defra’s Triennial Review proposes to merge Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Defra is inviting anyone with an interest in Natural England and the Environment Agency to respond by 4th February 2013 to a discussion paper which proposes to merge the two agencies. This follows considerable cuts to Natural England’s funding in the Coalition government’s first Comprehensive Spending Review, and the removal of the agency’s power to make policy. The Coalition government has also already cut 27% of Environment Agency funding, stopping 294 planned flood prevention schemes from going ahead – including one at Walsden Water.
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RSPB asks European Commission to investigate Natural England’s “probably unlawful” activities regarding Walshaw Moor Estate

After six months of investigation, the RSPB has decided that Natural England has failed in its duties to enforce wildlife and habitat protection laws on Walshaw Moor Estate, and has asked the European Commission to step in.

Mike Clarke, RSPB chief executive, said

The decision to lodge this complaint has not been taken lightly, but this is a vitally important issue which centres on the Government’s statutory duty to protect our natural environment.

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