BBC Look North highlights the economic impact of grouse shooting on rural communities
An excellent item on the BBC’s Look North programme this week saw presenter Phil Connell visit the North York Moors in a bid to learn what this year’s low grouse numbers mean for the local economy.
Talking to keeper Jimmy Shuttleworth – who explains that this is the worst years for grouse he has seen in his 36 years on the moors – blaming the low grouse numbers on poor springs, which have resulted in poor heather growth.
A normal year on the estate in question would see 25 shoots; this year, there will be no more than eight. But of course this doesn’t just affect the people who go shooting, or those who work directly for moorland estates.
Connell speaks to shoot caterer Becky Houseman, who has seen much of her shoot work this year cancelled. She explains that "if you've not got shooting in these tiny economies, what have you got? You haven't got any income to these places, so then people don't want to live here, and they all just go to wrack and ruin. That is the knock-on effect of losing shoot days. There's just no money."
B&B owner Mandy Sowray agrees: "The whole ethos of this area in the winter months is shooting, and love it or hate it, I can't knock it as it provides me with a business." The experiences of these two ladies explains almost exactly how the economic benefits of grouse shooting affect the local communities in the uplands. In a normal year, shooting generates around £2billion for the economy – mostly in remote rural areas. The question has been asked time and time again: what other uses of the uplands which anti-shooting campaigners have promoted is capable of delivering the same economic benefits for the people who live there?