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. Continue reading

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New Durham University study finds ANY burning on Walshaw Moor Estate increases flood risk in Hebden Bridge

A new modelling study and investigation into how annual burning on the Walshaw Moor Estate (WME) may affect high river flows in Hebden Bridge has shown that the most effective way of managing the moors in order to reduce the peak flow at Hebden Bridge is to eliminate burning and encourage conservation and restoration of Sphagnum. Over time, this will allow sphagnum to replace some or much of the cotton and moorland grasses and heather.

Practiced over the whole Hebden Water catchment, this management for sphagnum restoration would reduce the peak flow at Hebden Bridge by between 5%-10%.
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Ban the Burn campaigners’ glorious walk to sadly degraded Walshaw Moor blanket bog

Hebden Bridge residents and business people gathered in St Georges Square at 9am on 12th and 13th August – the start of the grouse shooting season – to protest against the devastation of Walshaw Moor’s blanket bog and other habitats by industrial – scale grouse rearing. They then walked up to Walshaw Moor for a picnic and fun day that included checking the state of the blanket bog. Continue reading

Grouse shooting: environmentally destructive big business

Grouse moor owners, supported by millions of pounds of taxpayer subsidies, brutally kill and maim a huge number of wild animals and leave vast swathes of precious peatland drained burnt dry and scarred with vehicle tracks. This is all so that unnaturally large populations of red grouse can be nurtured as live targets for ‘guns’. Here are some Animal Aid videos about the intensively-managed grouse moor on Walshaw Moor Estate above Hebden Bridge, ahead of the Inglorious 12th August.

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Big Brexit question mark over EU legal action against UK government for failing to protect Walshaw Moor

Following the EU Referendum vote, Linda McAvan MEP has said it’s unclear what effect the vote for the UK to leave the EU is going to have on the EU Commission’s pursuit of the Ban the Burn complaint about violations of EU Natura 2000 protections on Walshaw Moor Estate.

Linda said that she can’t give a definitive  answer to this question, since all is up in the air, but she guesses that given that EU legal cases are premised on continued EU membership,  she can’t see why the Commission would invest time in pursuing the prosecution if the UK is going to be out of the EU.   Continue reading

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Vote remain! EU Commission has started legal process against UK government for conservation breaches on Walshaw Moor Estate

Here is a reason to remain in the EU – the European Commission has started a legal process against the UK government for:

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Help monitor blanket bog burning on Walshaw Moor – Tuesday 15 March

Walshaw Moor Estate grouse shooting business is burning the blanket bog to such an extent that it is exposing and breaking the surface of the peat. This is not allowed under the conditions of the Estate’s Environmental Stewardship Agreement with Natural England.

Upper Calderdale Wildlife Group are monitoring the burning but they need help. If you’d like to learn how to be a burning monitor, please join them at 2pm on Tuesday 15 March at  Widdop Gate, at the start of the track to Gorple Lower reservoir (on the left hand side of the road coming from Hebden Bridge). Continue reading

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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 – [ now launched, one year on] – 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

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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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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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