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New research finds 70% of UK adults support grouse shooting on United Utilities land causing further embarrassment for the RSPB

70% of Britons believe that United Utilities, the water company which services Northwest England, should continue to allow grouse shooting to take place on land it owns, according to a survey of 1,000 UK adults carried out by leading independent research group, FastMap.

The survey was commissioned by the United Utilities Consultative Panel (UUCP) in response to United Utilities saying it was considering a ban on grouse shooting on land it leases. This decision has prompted outrage from leaseholders, who rely on shooting, in particular grouse shooting, to maintain their livelihoods. 

The findings will be a further embarrassment to the RSPB who partner with United Utilities across a range of projects in the North West. Despite United Utilities receiving heavy criticism from the public and policy makers for their appalling record of pollution the charity has yet to speak out against the water company, leading critics to claim the RSPB silence is as a result of the significant funding it receives from the partnership.

The survey also found that 85% of respondents believe that United Utilities should have consulted with the local community before making major changes to its land management practices.

"This survey demonstrates that the British people are firmly on the side of the leaseholders in this argument. Shooting is not only an important revenue stream for farmers and gamekeepers, but it is also proven to be beneficial to the local environment: preserving rare heather moorlands, promoting biodiversity, and reducing the risk of wildfires," said UUCP spokesperson Jo Pearson.

"United Utilities should consult with local stakeholders, including farmers and land managers, before making such substantial changes to the way the land it owns is managed. These decisions have huge ramifications for both human beings and the natural world, not to mention the quality of the water that United Utilities provides," Pearson added.

According to the survey, support for shooting on United Utilities' land is highest among older respondents, with 76% of those aged 55 to 64 saying that the water company should continue to allow grouse shooting on its moors. This rises to 81% among over-65s.

The survey also polled respondents on whether the UK government should continue to allow grouse shooting at a national level. In all 66% agree, rising to 79% among those over 65.  

On the whole, a large proportion of British adults take a dim view of United Utilities, with 44% of survey respondents saying they feel negatively about the water company. Just 19% said they have a positive view about United Utilities, with the remainder saying they feel neutral or didn't know. 


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