DEFRA under increasing pressure to stop burning on peatlands

Photo: Sarah Hanson

Remember COP26 – it was only 10 days ago. Nations were castigated for not doing enough to combat climate change.

We have a classic example of government being weak in the face of intransigence from vested interests in England. Whereas some nations can argue that they have to cause pollution for the benefit of their population, it seems that DEFRA is allowing damaging burning on peatland soils simply for the recreation of shooting Red Grouse. DEFRA is allowing burning of vegetation on peatland soils, despite saying themselves that ‘There is a consensus that burning of vegetation on blanket bog is damaging to peatland formation and habitat condition. It makes it more difficult or impossible to restore these habitats to their natural state and to restore their hydrology‘. And yet the measures DEFRA introduced in the end protect less than half of the peatlands from such damage.

Local councils in the uplands are calling on DEFRA to clamp down on the damaging practice of moorland burning. Wild Moors say that 13 councils including Calderdale, Sheffield, Redcar and Cleveland and High Peak have called for greater restrictions on burning of moorlands.

Wild Justice challenged the lawfulness of the DEFRA regulations on burning and we were refused permission for judicial review – but our renewal hearing will take place on 1 December and we hope that we will then be able to go to judicial review.

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