A range of cross-party MPs, including those from constituencies in upland and grouse shooting areas, have overwhelmingly rejected a Westminster Hall Debate on a petition calling on driven grouse shooting to be banned.

The petition supported by celebrity TV presenter Chris Packham and signed by over 100,000 people was debated by parliamentarians yesterday (21 June 2021).

The large scale rejection of the petition’s motion cited numerous examples of how a ban on grouse shooting would impact on the positive contributions the activity provides to conservation efforts, the local economy, and the socio-wellbeing of those taking part.

Richard Holden, North West Durham MP, focused on grouse shooting’s impact on rural communities such as exist in his constituency. He said: “It is not just about the shooting itself and the gamekeepers; it is the huge amount of part-time jobs in the season and the huge amount of trade that comes with the industry, particularly for my hospitality sector.”

Kevin Hollinrake, Thirsk and Malton MP, talked about the well-being of those who visit the “beautiful purple and green-carpeted North York Moors”. He said, “left unmanaged, the moors just would not look like they do today, and visitors would be far less likely to come.”

Robert Goodwill, Scarborough and Whitby MP, highlighted the fragility of the moorlands in his constituency in the North York Moors and how it requires management through predator control and rotational burning.

Robbie Moore, Keighley MP, spoke of the economic benefits to the uplands that are because of grouse moor management and “the wider conservation measure of peatland restoration, carbon sequestration and improving habitats for many other ground-nesting birds”.

While no party supported the petition’s motion, with the SNP and Labour spokespeople favouring an alternative licensing system.

On watching the debate Gareth Dockerty, BASC’s uplands officer, said: “It is quite clear that a ban on driven grouse shooting has failed to raise a single thread of support in Parliament. MPs from across the parties showcased the wide-ranging benefits from grouse shooting.

“The debate clearly highlighted the positive steps grouse shooting has taken since the last debate in 2016. The shooting community are clearly offering key solutions for carbon storage and declining species, the debate showed how shooting fits within rural communities and offers a proven viable option to protect landscapes, create jobs and support businesses.”  

Rebecca Pow, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, responded on behalf of the Government saying that: “There is a great deal of strong feeling about the issue”. She continued by saying: “By managing those moorlands to create the optimum habitats for grouse, land managers can play a really strong role in conservation.”

Tom Hunt, Ipswich MP, who introduced the debate, summarised it by saying: “What is not clear is that banning driven grouse shooting would be good for the environment: in fact, I think, on balance, it would be harmful.”

ENDS…

Notes to Editors:
The Westminster Hall Debate can be watched in full here, and the transcript provided by Hansard can be read here.

For further information on grouse shooting, the fall-out from the debate and this year’s ‘Glorious Twelfth’ please contact press@basc.org.uk