At the end of October Ruth George, at the time the MP for High Peak, made a statement in the Commons at the second reading of the Environment Bill in Westminster. She described grouse moors as “some of the least diverse areas for wildlife”, and said that “In my constituency, [raptors] have actually disappeared”. The Peak District Moorland Group wrote to Ms George about her comments; you can read the full letter here.
Ruth George has now replied to the PDMG's letter, clarifying some of her statements. Here is the full response from the Peak District Moorland Group, which they published on their Facebook page this morning.
As a follow up from our post regarding our letter to Ruth George (our then Labour MP for the High Peak) regarding her accusations about our managed moorlands in her constituency, we can confirm that she did get back to us to try and clarify what she meant to convey, when she spoke in Parliament.
She confirmed that the Moorland areas in her constituency were she says, “despite some Raptors nesting the young have not come to fruition” – a very sweeping and misleading statement given that in 2018 and 2019 Hen Harrier successfully raised young in the Dark Peak, Merlin had the highest density of successful nests on managed moors and Goshawk and Peregrine all raised young, along with Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby and Owl species all present. There are many factors that affect the success of any birds nest and subsequent rearing of young to fledging, natural predation and disturbance from other animal species, unintentional disturbance from the 13 million visitors to our area, weather and of course the availability of feed for the young birds, and in some instances illegal human action.
She went onto convey that “promoting revegetation and rewetting” will prevent wildfire risk? From our presence at all the wildfire incidents of 2018/2019, which our experienced gamekeepers and farmers attended (at no charge to the public) along with their specialist equipment, not once can we recall the Fire Rescue Service command saying “we can pull resources away from that edge of the fire as its been rewetted”. At the recent Wildfire Conference in Cardiff, speakers from around the world agreed with the conference strapline “Manage the Fuel – Reduce the Risk”, something that the moorland land managers have been doing for over a very long period of time, until the recent policy change on controlled burning in certain locations.
It therefore comes as no surprise that Ruth announced at a local husting that there are better ways than grouse moor management for our moorlands, she also has identified that her knowledge on moorland issues has been fed to her by Mark Avery, so no agenda there then?
As reported previously, the fantastic results from the 2018 Breeding Bird Survey really does show, the management techniques being implemented by many moorland estates are beneficial to a raft of fauna and flora types and enjoyed by a huge range of diverse visitors to our area.
Our offer still stands that if she is re-elected, we would welcome her to come out again, to gain some practical knowledge on the issues that we face out on the moors we cherish so much, which benefit a huge community of locals, visitors and wildlife.