by Adrian Blackmore

Thanks to Wild Justice, Monday’s debate in Westminster on the petition to ban driven grouse shooting provided the perfect opportunity to reinforce the case for grouse shooting, its associated integrated moorland management, and the enormous environmental, economic, and social benefits that it delivers. Of the eleven MPs that took part in the debate, only two were in favour of a ban on grouse shooting; an incredibly low number that speaks volumes as there is clearly limited support for a ban in Parliament. 

It was only too apparent that all of those MPs speaking against the petition did so from a position of knowledge and understanding; something that could not be said of the two that spoke in its favour, both of whom had a total disregard for the impact that a ban would have, not just on the livelihoods of so many in our uplands for whom it can be the main economic driver, but also on much of our most treasured wildlife and landscapes. One of these was the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who unfortunately referred to the rearing of grouse when, as she really should have known, it is a totally wild bird. The Shadow Minister then went on to claim that very few shot grouse enter the food chain, when the complete opposite is true. The other, a former Shadow Environment Secretary, announced that she did not accept either the conservation or economic arguments for grouse shooting – despite the reams of evidence to support both arguments. But then it was she who said only last year that ‘grouse are imported into this country in their millions just so they can be shot by people on an away day’. Such ignorance and wilful blindness are unbelievable, and it is therefore somewhat ironic that those were the very terms that Wild Justice has used to describe the Government’s stance on grouse shooting, as there could actually be no better way in which to sum up Wild Justice and their supporters.

In closing the debate, Tom Hunt MP said that “with respect to the petitioners, there is clearly not support in this House for the petition. In fact, there is probably less support than there was four years ago” when a similar petition to ban grouse shooting was debated. That petition had also been promoted by Chris Packham and his co-founders of Wild Justice, and as was the case then, Monday’s debate merely showed that the sweeping allegations levelled against grouse shooting, made solely in pursuit of an anti-shooting agenda, are not supported by the evidence. Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery might “believe that intensive grouse shooting is bad for people, the environment and wildlife”, but that was clearly not a view that was shared by the vast majority of MPs, and neither was it the view of the Minister, Rebecca Pow MP, who responded on behalf of the Government.  

Over 3,500 supporters used the Alliance’s e-lobby to contact a total of 481 MPs ahead of the debate, and we are extremely grateful for their help in highlighting the significant environmental, economic and social benefits of driven grouse shooting, and for asking their MP to speak out against the misleading and unsubstantiated claims being made by Wild Justice. 

The full transcript of the debate can be read here.

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