Defra have once and for all banished the myth that grouse shooting receives subsidy from government.

In a comprehensive reply to the latest petition against grouse shooting, the Government has once again stated the conservation benefits of grouse shooting and highlighted the economic value of grouse shooting to the rural economy. Any petition that obtains over 10,000 signatures receives a government response.

More significantly however, the government has taken this opportunity to quash a myth being perpetuated by the prominent anti-shooting voices who drive this campaign. It is now a fact of public record that “neither subsidies nor agri-environment payments are paid to farmers to support shooting activities”.

It is sad that rural commentators and campaigners have repeated the myth that grouse shooting receives subsidy from the government. The Countryside Alliance hopes that the newspapers and other media outlets who have been duped into repeating this lie will think twice in future, not only about broadcasting this particular myth but also about trusting those voices who have tried to spread it.

Petitions against grouse shooting are becoming an annual fixture, driven by a small number of activists. This is the fourth such petition. The third attempt managed to trigger a Westminster Hall debate, due to the intervention of celebrities ranging from a BBC wildlife presenter to a rock guitarist. The Countryside Alliance and the Moorland Association gave evidence to the Petition and EFRA Committee session that preceded that debate.

The response given by the Government on this occasion reflects the evidence the Countryside Alliance gave to the Petitions and EFRA committees. Like the Alliance, the Government does not shy away from concerns over the limited instances of poor management and crime, and highlights collaborative efforts to combat these anomalies. The Government further acknowledges the environmental, economic and social value of grouse shooting, just as we highlighted in the evidence session over one year ago.

It remains to be seen whether this fourth petition achieves the coordinated campaign backing that drove the 2016 petition to over 100,000 signatories, or if this one will be a more accurate reflection of actual public engagement in this issue (the first and second petition both received fewer than 35,000 signatures).