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Grouse shooting and management: review and consultation

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 2:45 pm, 5th March 2020

It is a genuine pleasure and honour to be surrounded by so many knowledgeable and committed environmentalists. The Government consider that shooting activities can bring many benefits to the rural economy, and in many cases are beneficial for wildlife and habitat conservation. We recognise that it is vital that wildlife and habitats are respected and protected. We will continue to work to ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation. There is no need for a commitment to review driven grouse shooting, as defined in the new clause, because we are already considering these issues. If there were to be a review, it might be more efficient and effective to consider other forms of grouse shooting and wider moorland management where there are no grouse, alongside driven grouse shooting.

The Government are already addressing rotational burning associated with grouse moor management on protected blanket bog. We have always been clear of the need to end burning on protected blanket bog to conserve vulnerable habitats, and we are actively looking at how legislation could achieve that. Our intention has always been to legislate if a voluntary approach fails to deliver. Real progress is being made in promoting sustainable alternatives, including consent for cutting of vegetation as an alternative to rotational burning, and removing or modifying consents to burn as higher level stewardship agreements are renewed. We have urged landowners to adopt those measures and continue to work with them constructively.

The recently released Werritty review addresses those issues in Scotland. The group’s report recognised the socioeconomic contribution that grouse shooting makes to Scotland’s rural economy, but made a number of recommendations that are currently being considered by the Scottish Government. We will watch closely to see how they respond. We do not rule out the possibility of a wider review into grouse moor management in the future, but I would not want to restrict that just to driven grouse management. Once Scotland has announced its plans, we will consider the benefits or otherwise of regulatory alignment between the two jurisdictions. I therefore ask the hon. Lady to withdraw the new clauses.