7th Dec - Nick Hayes, Author
Whatever your views on grouse shooting, or indeed land management more generally, Nick Hayes’ book – The Book of Trespass – is actually quite entertaining in places.
His description of his experience at Wilderness music festival, in which he talks proudly about being off his head on MDMA ecstasy, was enlightening (though we had been under the impression that taking class A drugs and giving them to friends was illegal?). And his tales of the ghost of Herne the Hunter charging around Windsor Park were amusing.
Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly though, he lets himself down like so many critics do with lazy bias when it comes to talking about the UK’s uplands, choosing instead to fall back partly on paraphrasing Mark Avery in his anti-grouse shooting manifesto, Inglorious and partly it seems a RSPB ‘Back the Burn’ Press Release.
Hayes makes no attempt to try and provide any balance. One key example of this is on page 233 where he says: “Every year these moors are systemically burned to increase the yield of new green shoots on the heather…but burning destroys the sphagnum moss and dries out the peat, turning the carbon sinks into a carbon source: the damage done to these peatlands in England releases 260,000 tonnes of carbon back into the atmosphere every year, the equivalent emissions of 88,000 average-sized saloon cars.”
A writer with more integrity, or perhaps less of a single-minded agenda, would have also have said:
o One single wildfire in Scotland released almost a million tonnes of carbon back into the atmosphere last year.
o That’s the equivalent of 300,000 average-size saloon cars, four times the amount Hayes blames on annual controlled heather burning.
o Controlled burning does not dry out peat, as he suggests. Just watch the Mars bar muirburn video to see for yourself.
All these allegations he makes in the book could have easily been checked if he had wanted to. But they likely deliberately weren’t.
Instead we have situation now where a popular up and coming new author has published a book, aimed at people who will have likely had almost no preconceptions over grouse moors, and then they believe what they read.
That, combined with his almost comically derisive descriptions of gamekeepers throughout, not once mentioning any if the positive work that they do, is what leads to the harassment and intimidation we see today across our uplands. That’s how it works.
And people wonder why moorland communities are getting angry about the accusations people throw at them.