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New study finds 70% of UK adults support grouse shooting on United Utilities land

70% of Britons believe that United Utilities, the water company which services Northwest England, should continue to allow grouse shooting to take place on land it owns, according to a survey of 1,000 UK adults. 

The survey was commissioned by the United Utilities Consultative Panel (UUCP) in response to United Utilities saying it was considering a ban on grouse shooting on land it leases. This decision has prompted outrage from leaseholders, who rely on shooting, in particular grouse shooting, to maintain their livelihoods. 

The survey also found that 85% of respondents believe that United Utilities should have consulted with the local community before making major changes to its land management practices.

"This survey demonstrates that the British people are firmly on the side of the leaseholders in this argument. Shooting is not only an important revenue stream for farmers and gamekeepers, but it is also proven to be beneficial to the local environment: preserving rare heather moorlands, promoting biodiversity, and reducing the risk of wildfires," said UUCP spokesperson Jo Pearson.

"United Utilities should consult with local stakeholders, including farmers and land managers, before making such substantial changes to the way the land it owns is managed. These decisions have huge ramifications for both human beings and the natural world, not to mention the quality of the water that United Utilities provides," Pearson added.

According to the survey, support for shooting on United Utilities' land is highest among older respondents, with 76% of those aged 55 to 64 saying that the water company should continue to allow grouse shooting on its moors. This rises to 81% among over-65s.

The survey also asked respondents on whether the UK government should continue to allow grouse shooting at a national level. In all 66% agree, rising to 79% among those over 65.  

On the whole, a large proportion of British adults take a dim view of United Utilities, with 44% of survey respondents saying they feel negatively about the water company. Just 19% said they have a positive view about United Utilities, with the remainder saying they feel neutral or didn't know. 

The United Utilities Consultative Panel (UUCP) is a community group of individuals who lease or manage land belonging to United Utilities. The panel was formed in August 2023 in response to unilateral decisions by the United Utilities which fundamentally alter how people live their lives on moorland owned by the water company.

Adrian Blackmore, Director of Shooting for the Countryside Alliance said:

“ We welcome the results of the survey, the findings of which should come as no surprise to United Utilities. The available science and evidence are overwhelmingly in favour of the continuance of game shooting and its associated management, and when the company announced last year that it would not be renewing the shooting leases on its landholdings when they came up for renewal, we immediately highlighted our concerns to the Chief Executive, challenged the company in the media, mobilised local MPs, and launched an e-lobby which 6,975 people took advantage of to make their views known to United Utilities.  As a result of the enormous number of representations received, United Utilities announced that for the time being, there would be no change to existing leases, and that it would be carrying out an 'independent review' of each of its existing shooting leases to understand exactly what the environmental and social impact would be if they were to change any land management practices. Although we asked to be involved in that review, and were assured that would be the case, we have heard nothing further, and this survey is therefore a timely reminder for United Utilities that this is an issue that has not gone away.”


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