Ban the Burn, Treesponsibility and others call on Gove to ban burning of upland peatlands in England

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Ban the Burn and Treesponsibility are among a group of charities, academics and local campaigners with a track record of working on peatland conservation, which has today written to Michael Gove urging him to implement a complete ban on the practice of burning on upland peatland habitats.

A ban is vital in order to protect carbon stores, wildlife, habitats and communities.

We have seen plenty of evidence of continued burning on protected peatland this year, despite the government’s introduction of a voluntary ban on burning.

The lack of compliance with the voluntary ban on burning is likely to worsen, thanks to Natural England’s recent ‘restoration burning’ position statement. Continue reading

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The group is sending Natural England its comments on the draft guidance, and hopes that as many people as possible who are affected by the way blanket bogs are managed will also read the draft guidance (embedded further down this page) and email their views in to Natural England.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

UK government stonewalls EU investigation into blanket bog burning

The EU Commission has invited Hebden Bridge campaigners to comment on findings from the first stage of its investigation into Natural England’s 2012 management agreement and Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Walshaw Moor Estate Ltd (WMEL).

Both agreements cover WMEL’s intensified use of the moors for its grouse shooting business.
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Posted from here.

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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How many European-protected sites have Natural England’s Consent to burn blanket bog?

I have sent Natural England an Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) request, (RFI 1870) to find out about Natural England’s Appropriate Assessments, Consents and Environmental Stewardship Agreements that cover blanket bog burning on Natura 2000 sites across England.

(To see what these terms mean, please skip to the end of this post.)

This follows Ban the Burn’s complaint to the European Commission about Natural England’s “probably unlawful” Consent to Walshaw Moor Estate’s blanket bog burning on the European-protected South Pennine Moors site.
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Watershed landscape is key to environmental, social and economic development decisions

The Aarhus Convention guarantees the public’s right to information about, and participation in environmental decision-making by public bodies. 

As a member of the public, Fiona Hesselden attended the 29th January Pennine Prospects/Natural England Workshop on Working with National Character Areas : Profiles in Practice .

She reports on it here. Continue reading

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 here.

Conservation watchdog’s approval of grouse shooting estate operations on protected moors may fail key legal test

Information I have obtained through Environmental Information Regulations requests shows that Natural England’s 2012 environmental impact assessment of Walshaw Moor Estate’s  grouse shooting operations appears not to pass a crucial legal test.

The assessment fails to show that no reasonable scientific doubt exists that Walshaw Moor Estate’s burning and draining of blanket bog (and other operations) will not damage the integrity of the protected conservation site. This calls into question the validity of the £2.5m Walshaw Moor Estate Environmental Stewardship Agreement, since the ESA  is based on the Appropriate Assessment conclusion that WME’s operations will not have adverse effects on the integrity of the site.
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