RSPB lodges EU complaint over burning of grouse moor
Michael McCarthy, formerly the Independent’s longstanding Environment Editor, now its Environment Columnist, is one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment and the natural world. He has won a string of awards for his work, including Environment Journalist of the Year (three times) and Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards in 2001. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the RSPB for “Outstanding Services to Conservation,” in 2010 he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and in 2011 the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology. In 2009 McCarthy published Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo (John Murray), a study of Britain’s declining migrant birds.
Monday 15 October 2012
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has demanded a European investigation of the Government's wildlife watchdog amid a bitter row over the burning of a protected bird habitat.
The RSPB believes Natural England's abrupt decision in March to stop its prosecution of the Walshaw Moor Estate in West Yorkshire was in breach of its legal duty to protect the environment.
The charity claims Natural England contravened EU rules in its dealings with the estate, near Hebden Bridge, which burnt peat bog to help boost the numbers of grouse for shooting on the moors, and has submitted a formal complaint to Brussels.
The blanket bog in question is a rare and threatened habitat that is home to endangered wading birds such as dunlin and golden plover. Burning the bog encourages new heather shoots – a food source for grouse.
Natural England said its agreement with Walshaw Moor Estate meant that burning off would be subject to "specific controls" and that it was aware of the EU complaint.
Walshaw Moor Estate declined to comment.
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