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Shooting provides a lifeline for moorland communities

The scale of the impact to the UK’s economy from coronavirus is yet to be fully known. However what is clear is that the country faces an economic collapse unlike anything we have experienced in recent memory.

According to a report released last week by the Royal Society of Arts, moorland areas are expected to be hit the hardest by the economic downturn, with Richmondshire in North Yorkshire, which forms part of the Chancellors Rishi Sunak’s own constituency, predicted to lose 35% of jobs, the Peak District 34% and the Derbyshire Dales 34%. These are jobs that once gone, are unlikely to return soon – if at all.

In contrast, places like Oxford are 20% less exposed than moorland communities to the economic impact of the coronavirus.

It will surprise few, but isn’t it interesting to note how many of the activists determined to see an end to moorland management practises and driven grouse shooting – and with it the loss of tens of thousands of jobs – live in Oxford and Cambridge. People like George Monbiot, the radical campaigner who hopes to see our moorlands populated by boars and bears, and couldn’t give a stuff about the people who live and work there.

It is also no surprise that some of the most regular trolls on C4PMC’s blog and social media pages live in areas far away from the moorlands, where the RSA expect the economic impact of coronavirus to be far less severe. People like Daniel Davy, from trendy Edgware in North London, and Chris Woolner, from Stroud in the Cotswolds, who seemingly like nothing more than to abuse people online on a daily basis, rather than show any consideration to the economic and social damage they seek to cause on hardworking people.

Many of these moorland communities identified in the RSA report rely heavily upon the investment brought in by driven grouse shooting. Owners across the country pump in £53 million each year in private funds, directly into some of the most rural areas of the countryside.

In turn, moorland businesses collectively generate over £1.8bn in investment each year, from local garages and builders, to pubs and local restaurants, much of which is generated directly from those coming to go grouse shooting, further reinforcing its economic reach.

In terms of employment, in addition to the 2,000 full-time employees needed to manage these moors, many thousand more are employed on a day-by-day basis, sometimes up to 60 people on a shoot day, which form the heartbeat of local economies and a huge social benefit to those involved.

This was reinforced by 28 year-old-bar manager Craig, in the North York Moors, who explained, “If it weren’t for the shooting parties coming into the pub, we wouldn’t have a business at all for half the year, and none of the five of us working here would have a job, nor any of our contractors. If the pub closed, it is not like down south where you can just get another job next door. This is all there is, it’s the heartbeat of the community.”

It is commendable that so far throughout this crisis, the vast majority of grouse moor owners have done everything possible to ensure their employees remain in work and secure in their employment, without relying upon the heavily subscribed government financial support.

There is no sugar-coating the fact that the economic damage on rural areas – particularly moorland ones – is going to be severe and longstanding from the impact of Covid-19. But our moorland communities are also some of the most resilient to adversity. For moorland communities to continue to be able to flourish, once it is safe to do so, they must be allowed to welcome shooting parties and the private investment that that brings to the area.

The country and the economy need to get back on their feet as soon as is feasibly possible. When it comes to our moorland communities and safeguarding the future of those that live in them, shooting provides the lifeline they need now more than ever before.


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