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Yorkshire Water urge collaboration ahead of protest in Hebden Bridge over grouse shooting

St George's Square, Hebden Bridge
St George's Square, Hebden Bridge

Yorkshire Water has urged campaigners to work with them ahead of a protest in Hebden Bridge this Saturday concerning grouse shooting from moorland across the region.

campaigners from Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors (BBYM) and the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) will hold the protest days before the shooting season commences.

Their goal is to persuade Yorkshire Water to stop leasing moorland around the town - including Turley Holes, Stanbury and Haworth Moors - for grouse shooting.

The protestors say that over the summer ‘jaw-like’ traps have been found set on the utility company’s moors, aimed at preserving game birds from natural predators for shooting parties.

The protestors also say that stoats and weasels take at least two minutes to die from the bone-crushing impact of the deadly devices, resulting in prolonged suffering.

The protest comes in the wake of a high-profile decision by nearby Bradford Council to end grouse shooting on famed Ilkley Moor. Every local authority and nearly all utility companies now prohibit the practice on their upland estates.

Says Luke Steele, spokesperson from Ban Bloodsports on Ilkley Moor, said: “There is only one way manage moorland for grouse shooting: that is through purging the uplands of native wildlife and burning away precious habitat, at the expense of our region’s biodiversity, natural flood barrier and proud reputation.

“If Yorkshire Water wants to be recognised as taking its environmental responsibilities seriously, then ending its grouse shooting leases is the only course of action which will suffice. By removing the negative impact allowing the practice has on wildlife, habitat and the regional economy, Yorkshire Water will truly become the environmental champion it espouses to be.”

Nick Weston, head of campaigns at League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We are proud to stand alongside the residents of Hebden Bridge to protest against Yorkshire Water’s decision to permit driven grouse shooting on its land. Across the UK up to 700,000 grouse are shot every year for this so-called sport, and the practices used to ensure high grouse numbers cause devastation to the local wildlife, landscape and people.

“The irony that a company like Yorkshire Water, who’s role it is to provide for its customers and the community, is facilitating such destruction, is not lost on me, nor the residents of Hebden Bridge. There is no justification for this to continue, and it’s time for it to stop.”

Paul Carter, Political Engagement Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “As one of the region’s biggest landowners we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously. Shooting is a complex issue which we continue to consider very carefully.

“In recent years we have been working with a wide range of stakeholders to tackle a range of water quality and environmental issues. Our partners in delivering this work include the owners and tenants of shooting rights, both on our land and on land owned by others. This collaborative approach has made great progress and has enabled us to jointly deliver innovative projects which deliver for everyone with an interest in land management.

“Our view is that taking a confrontational approach by banning shooting in the areas where we control the shooting rights would have less benefit than working together.

“There are significant areas of our land where we don’t control the shooting rights and therefore where we have no control over shooting activities. Working in partnership means we have been able to make meaningful improvements to water quality and the environment in these areas. Taking a more confrontational approach could significantly impact our ability to deliver these projects and environmental improvements in these areas, harming the environment and delivering less for our customers.

“Our ultimate aim is to ensure that we deliver the best possible environmental outcomes on our land. At the current time we believe this aim is best served by working together with all stakeholders in partnership.”