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The fracking hypocrisy of Mark Avery and the anti-DGS campaigners

Recent polling across the UK confirms, as was suspected, that 99.37% of the population have no opinion one way or the other on driven grouse shooting (DGS).

The last petition to ban DGS received support from 0.14% of the UK population. A counter petition not to have a ban reached 0.08%. In the grand scale of things, we are talking about tiny numbers here.

Instead, people are, entirely understandably, far more concerned with things like a global pandemic called Covid-19; ensuring their children get an education; putting food on the table for their families; preventing crime and healthcare – to name just a few.

But despite how limited the public interest in DGS is in the UK, it is extraordinary how much media coverage and political time it garners, particularly in Scotland.

[Without driven grouse shooting, the value and benefits brought by moorland would fall]

It had previously been assumed that this disconnect is driven by activists, hell-bent on targeting it through some sort of misconceived agenda against landowners. But new evidence suggest that the truth maybe be an altogether more sinister state of affairs.

Indeed, most rural folk continue to scratch their heads at the colossal expense and relentlessness of the campaign against DGS and the professional support it receives around the clock.

In comparison, most supporters of DGS don’t have the luxury many of their opponents seem to by spending all their time campaigning – as they are busy actually trying to make a living and protecting livestock.

In addition to Chris Packham, who continues to be able to abuse his taxpayer funded BBC platform to further his own agenda, one of the most notable orchestrators of the campaign against driven grouse shooting is REVIVE – the coalition for grouse moor reform.

REVIVE is made up of organistions some consider to be extreme left-wing including the League Against Cruel Sports, One Kind and Common Weal.

REVIVE purports to be run by anti-DGS activists. These are people who would be happy to see the jobs and livelihoods brought by the income DGS brings to remote communities decimated.

These are people who pretend to be interested in the environment, but actually don't care one jot about the biodiversity and wildlife that grouse moor habitats create for some of our most endangered species.

These are people who refuse to recognise the huge importance of controlled burning in preventing wildfires. The only thing they seem to care about is whacking what they believe to be ‘posh landowners’ by any means necessary.

But a closer look at REVIVE and their cosy networks and potential funding links reveals a much more sinister agenda, with close links to both fracking companies and windfarms.

A strange alliance you might think; but it is these companies that stand to significantly benefit from a ban on DGS, devaluing the price of moorland which these companies could then scoop up on the cheap for their purposes of fracking.

It is no surprise therefore to see that the main contact for REVIVE is not a hairy hippy, but instead a glamorous and willowy woman by the name of Louise Robertson. Ms Robertson works for a leading Edinburgh based corporate PR firm, called Message Matters.

[Louise Robertson, Message Matters and REVIVE anti-grouse shooting campaign]

As well as running REVIVE, the campaign to get grouse shooting banned, it's interesting to see that Message Matters also represent controversial fracking and other energy companies. These include Angus Energy, who have come under repeated fire from anti-fracking campaign group, Frack Off.

In addition to fracking companies, Message Matters also represent a host of controversial windfarm companies including BayWa RE, who are focused on erecting wind turbines on grouse moors. The company has seven turbines located on north-west of Gilston in the Scottish Borders, on the edge of Fala Moor, and another 14 at Whitelaw Brae near Tweedsmuir.

Both projects have proved hugely controversial, with Mountaineering Scotland opposing the project saying it ‘ignores tourism’. The esteemed John Muir Trust has also objected to the decisions as there is ‘potential for considerable damage to peatlands.

It is little surprise therefore to see that a recent REVIVE report into the potential alternative uses of Scottish Uplands are almost entirely focused on recommending that energy companies take control of the uplands.

You couldn’t make this up! The campaign against grouse shooting is literally being run a corporate PR agency that gets paid to represent fracking and windfarm companies. Is it any wonder so much money finds its way into the hands of the anti-DGS campaigners, and that Mark Avery doesn’t need a real job?

Anyone with any doubt about the impact that wind turbines have on wildlife, particularly birds of prey, should read this research from the US – ‘Wind Turbines or Giant Bird Blenders?’. More birds of prey are killed by wind turbines than almost any other cause.

How convenient that you so rarely hear Ruth Tingay, Chris Packham, Luke Steele or Mark Avery ever say a bad word against wind farms. It is a sordid state of affairs that turns the stomach of any proper conservationist.

The question therefore is whether Mark Avery and his gang of followers are unwittingly playing the role of ‘useful idiots’ to the fracking companies in their vendetta against grouse shooting, or is he actually part of the conspiracy and working as a ‘gun for hire’? Neither would surprise us.

Either way, anyone who doesn’t want to see our precious moorlands fracked or covered in windfarms should start taking a stance against this sinister campaign group determined to see the end of our beautiful heather moorlands as we know them.


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