The afternoon of the 6th September 2016 saw the parliamentary Petitions Committee consider a petition calling for driven grouse shooting to be banned. The petition was lodged by Mark Avery and was electronically signed by over 100,000 people which is the threshold required for a petition to be considered for debate, in the majority of cases it always leads to an actual debate being scheduled.
Before scheduling the debate, the Petitions Committee decided that the MP’s should have the chance to “hear evidence” from both parties on grouse shooting to help inform them for the debate. The Petitions Committee also asked for written evidence be submitted by any individual or group that had an interest or expertise in grouse moor management and this was required by the 5th October, they received 486 submissions (including 1 from NYMMO).
NYMMO followers were also brilliant in their support, as they did their bit, by completing support letters which were then sent in to their local MP’s, copies of a couple of the replies are shown below. The MP replies are really pleasing, supportive and also very detailed in their understanding of all the good work that we do.
Following on from the written submissions, the 18th October was set as the date of the evidence giving by the parties, the MP’s heard evidence from Mark Avery (the creator of the e-petition) alongside a representative from the RSPB, with Amanda Anderson from the Moorland Association and Liam Stokes from the Countryside Alliance fighting the corner for grouse moors. The grouse shooting community were represented brilliantly by Amanda and Liam, their articulate, professional, well-informed evidence based argument was perfectly presented and had invaluable supporting data, unlike their counterparts. It came as no surprise during the debate that not a single MP spoke out in favour of a ban (however some did support wildlife law enforcement, the use of voluntary partnerships and moorland best practice codes, etc)
On the back of the petition being lodged a further petition was started this time by the supporters and was aptly named “Protect Grouse Moors and Grouse Shooting”, because of the support received and the relevance this was taken into account during the debate itself.
The views of the Minister’s closed the debate and Dr Therese Coffey said “We all agree that conserving the upland moorlands is in everyone’s best interests. We will help to ensure that a constructive dialogue continues so that grouse shooting is protected and these valuable moorlands thrive.”
The governments position is that they have no intention of banning driven grouse shooting, they have no plans to introduce licensing (as there is considerable regulation already in place) and they will bring justice to those who break the law.
However, this is not the end, it is merely a foot in the right direction, we need to continue to protect grouse shooting and raise awareness of the good that is done on the estates and the benefits that are generated to the local economy and community.