Red grouse in heather

Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust welcomes Yorkshire Water grouse shooting changes

Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust has welcomed new changes announced by Yorkshire Water this week in their approach to reviewing grouse shooting tenancies.

When existing shooting leases come up for renewal, Yorkshire Water will undertake a review using their ‘six capitals’ approach to assess the best option for delivering future land management. The review assesses the benefits to “natural, social, human, manufactured, intellectual and financial capital”. Where the review shows continuing to lease the land for shooting as the best option for a particular catchment, Yorkshire Water will rewrite their tenancy agreements to include stricter requirements to restore and improve the natural environment and will also include a “presumption against burning as a land management technique”, with tenants only allowed to burn in exceptional circumstances as an intervention with Government regulator approval.

Yorkshire Water says it will also review their tenancy clauses on wildlife crime to make them as robust as possible for a zero-tolerance approach.

Liz Ballard, Chief Executive of Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust said: “It is fantastic to see Yorkshire Water taking such a balanced and well-thought out decision to review all their shooting tenancies as they come up for renewal. 

“For some years now, Yorkshire Water have been using their ‘six capitals’ approach as a way of looking at how sustainable their decisions are for society and the environment, as well as for the economy and the company itself.  For too long the approach by some moorland shooting tenants has eroded away our ‘natural and social capital’. Intensive and excessive moorland management for driven grouse shooting has led to a monoculture of heather and increased peat loss from burning and grouse populations that boom and bust, requiring excessive medication and intensive wildlife persecution (e.g. snaring of stoats, weasels, hares), including, in places, the illegal wildlife persecution of birds of prey and other protected species. Each lease carefully reviewed by Yorkshire Water will offer the potential to secure a more sustainable approach in balance with these internationally important habitats we depend upon, working with nature and for the people of Yorkshire.

“Although they only have small moorland holdings in the Sheffield Lakeland area, Yorkshire Water is a major landowner across the county. Their change in approach will not go unnoticed and it will be interesting to see if other water companies will follow this example. Congratulations to Yorkshire Water!”

To read Yorkshire Water’s updated policy for shooting tenancies, click here.