THE future of grouse shooting on Thornton Moor is set to be determined shortly under a new way of assessing such leases.

Yorkshire Water confirmed in 2019 that it would begin reviewing existing shooting leases on moorland it owns when they came up for renewal.

The Bradford-based firm has been working on a complex assessment tool and it is expected to trial it later this year when the Thornton Moor land management lease expires.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A red grouseA red grouse

The review will consider whether to continue allowing the shooting of grouse and partridge for sport on the moorland near Denholme.

The move has been welcomed by Wild Moors and the League Against Cruel Sports, which are lobbying Yorkshire Water to stop allowing game bird shooting on its moors and instead restore them for nature, carbon capture and the enjoyment of local people.

Luke Steele, executive director of Wild Moors, said: “Yorkshire Water has a clear opportunity to pull the plug on game bird shooting on Thornton Moor and instead restore this locally treasured land for nature, the climate and people. It must take it.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Thornton Moor. Picture: Wild MoorsThornton Moor. Picture: Wild Moors

A spokesman for the utility firm said: “We announced in 2019 that we would review shooting leases as they come up for renewal using our six capitals model to ensure that activities on our land are providing the best outcomes for society and the environment.

“Many of our leases are long-term and we are working to finalise our complex assessment tool to ensure decisions we make about our land are robust and well evidenced.

“We hope to trial using the assessment tool soon.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Heather cutting on Yorkshire Water's Thornton Moor. Picture: Wild MoorsHeather cutting on Yorkshire Water's Thornton Moor. Picture: Wild Moors

The campaigners say that the carbon-rich peatlands on Thornton Moor have been left exposed to erosion by the protective layer of heather being slashed away to provide younger, more nutritious shoots for grouse to eat.

They also say that releasing large numbers of non-native, farmed partridges to supplement the grouse population can also result in biodiversity loss when wild birds are driven out by competition.

Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, added: “Game bird shooting is unpopular, bad for the environment and most importantly: it’s cruel. The League Against Cruel Sports welcomes this long-awaited review from Yorkshire Water, and hopes it makes the right decision to end its shooting leases.”

Grouse shooting came to an end on Ilkley Moor in 2018 after Bradford Council took the decision to not renew a ten-year lease.

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