We are aware of a number of recent claims about a direct link between moorland management, grouse shooting and flooding. For many communities the damage caused by the flooding this winter has been the worst in living memory. The experience of witnessing homes, and even whole farms, under water has rightly led people to ask why it happened and what can be done to mitigate and prevent it happening again.
The Countryside Alliance welcomes the opportunity to discuss how rural communities and businesses can be protected from flooding. However, it is disappointing to see that this public debate is being used by some to advance an anti-shooting and, in some cases, anti-farming agenda. The accusation that grouse shooting has contributed to the flooding shows a lack of understanding about the work of grouse moor managers and the role they play in conserving heather and peatland across our uplands, which is some of our most valuable habitat.
There is no proven link between grouse shooting and flooding. What is clear is that the concerted efforts of grouse moor managers to block drains and re-vegetate bare peatland across the uplands contributes to slowing the flow of water through the catchment area, and this should be seen as part of any flood prevention strategy rather than a causal factor.
Here is our briefing note on heather and peatland management undertaken by grouse moor managers and the potential impact this has on hydrology. It has been sent to interested Parliamentarians to inform the ongoing debate. BACKGROUND NOTE ON GROUSE SHOOTING – HEATHER AND PEATLAND MANAGEMENT, February 2016