YP Letters: Challenging grouse moor accusations

From: Adrian Blackmore, Director of Shooting, Countryside Alliance.

The Countryside Alliance is defending grouse shooting because of its environmental benefits.

GP Taylor’s opinion piece on why grouse shooting should be banned (The Yorkshire Post, October 24) contains blatant misinformation that cannot go unchallenged.

Grouse moor managers are not clearing out moorland drains. Quite the opposite. They have been embracing a number of projects that include re-vegetation of bare peat, and the blocking of drains both to raise water tables and encourage the growth of sphagnum moss which slows the flow of surface water and filter out any discolouration.

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These, along with restoration burning and cutting of heather, are key elements of Defra’s Blanket Bog Restoration Strategy, the aim of which is to create a wetter and healthier environment.

It is thanks to this on-going management that more than 60 per cent of England’s upland Sites of Special Scientific Interest are managed grouse moors, and over 40 per cent are also designated Special Protection Areas for rare birds, and Special Areas of Conservation for rare vegetation. Why Mr Taylor should regard this management as having a catastrophic effect on the environment and wildlife is unclear.

Studies have shown that many threatened species of waders are up to five times more abundant on moors managed for red grouse and that, thanks to the predator control that is carried out, birds such as the curlew and lapwing, both of which are species of the highest conservation concern, are 3.5 times more likely to raise a chick to fledging.

There are 175 grouse moors in England and Wales, accounting for just one-fifth of our uplands, and each year £52.5m is spent on their management.

The spin-offs from grouse shooting in the North are over £15m a year. It is responsible for 1,520 full-time posts, 700 of which are directly involved in grouse moor management, with a further 820 jobs in related services and industries. An average of 50 casual employees are also involved in each shoot day, an important source of income to many.

The benefits are therefore considerable, and although any alternative to the status quo would, at best, need to be as environmentally, economically and socially beneficial as those currently being enjoyed by so many, no viable proposal has yet been put forward.

Not-so smart utility meters

From: Bob Swallow, Townhead Avenue, Settle.

THE Government exhorts us to change energy supplier to get the best deal. Also to fit a smart meter to keep track of usage.

Just over two years ago we signed up to a two-year deal with OVO. That was fine, no problems in changing over. Midway through, they suggested we have smart meters installed for both gas and electricity. Again no problem and they can read usage through ‘the spy in the sky’.

Back during this September the new deal showed a large percentage increase so we shopped around and settled on ESB Energy with a more acceptable increase.

Again no problem switching until it came to reading the meters which were by now blank. I contacted Which Legal to which we subscribe and found that this aspect is a growing problem. Why we are under pressure to install these wretched things when we might just as well take a reading from the old-fashioned meters? My understanding is that the whole concept is a Government initiative – and clearly not thought through.

Good news for cathedrals

From: The Very Reverend Simon Cowling, Dean of Wakefield.

YOUR report about numbers attending cathedral worship (The Yorkshire Post, October 24) is welcome news for those of us who have the privilege of being involved in cathedral ministry.

Our experience in Wakefield mirrors the national trend: since the renewal of the interior of Wakefield Cathedral in 2015 attendance at Christmas services has increased by over 14 per cent, while the figures for Easter show an increase of over eight per cent.

But behind these statistics is an even more interesting story: in these times when social cohesion is under siege because of the insidious effects of identity politics, the rise in numbers of people visiting our cathedrals demonstrates that they are seen as places where people of all faiths and none can be assured of the unconditional welcome which lies at the heart of the Christian faith. That is good news indeed.

Brexit deal will hit region

From: Ant French, Armthorpe, Doncaster.

IF Labour MP Caroline Flint (The Yorkshire Post, October 25) succeeds in helping the Government pass this Brexit deal, she will be irreversibly damaging our region.

That anybody could believe a hard-right Tory dream, delivered by Tory politicians, is going to be good for Yorkshire beggars belief. I urge her to reconsider and think again. The Tories have never had Yorkshire’s interests at heart and assisting them in their bid for economic suicide can only damage our region and country as a whole.

Show more of these games

From: Christine McDade, Morton on Swale.

I WAS looking forward to a full coverage of the Invictus Games. As the Duke of Sussex said: “All taking part are winners.”

What a disappointment then that the coverage was 30 minutes of highlights on BBC1 – a great disservice to our men and women taking part. I hope that a much fuller coverage will be considered in future years.