Worth £9bn, Duke of Westminster given £4m subsidy in 2014 for grouse moor
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sun Oct 30 20:05:33 GMT 2016
Duke of Westminster given millions in public cash
for grouse moor investigation
Published time: 28 Oct, 2016 15:15
English grouse moors, including one owned by
royalty, have been shored up with millions of
pounds in public money despite the climate of austerity.
Thirty of the estates where the birds are raised
and shot received £4 million (US$4.85 million) in
public cash in 2014, including one owned by the Duke of Westminster.
The duke is the richest landowner in the UK and
is worth an estimated £9 billion.
The investigation carried out by Friends of the
Earth supports an argument by campaigners who say
that grouse farming is damaging to the environment and uses far too much space.
MPs are due to debate the issue on Monday after
120,000 people signed a petition to ban the most
common form of grouse shooting........
Grouse shooting estates shored up by millions in subsidies
Common agricultural policy money given to estates
in England, including one owned by the Duke of
Westminster, Britains richest landowner
Damian Carrington @dpcarrington Friday 28
October 2016 06.00 BST Last modified on Saturday 29 October 2016 10.31 BST
Englands vast grouse shooting estates receive
millions of pounds in public subsidies according
to an investigation by Friends of the Earth.
Thirty of the estates received £4m of taxpayers
money between them in 2014, the year examined by
the pressure group, including one owned by the
Duke of Westminster, the richest landowner in
Britain with land holdings estimated to be worth £9bn
The campaigners, who argue that grouse moor
management harms the environment and wildlife,
found the moors cover over half a million acres,
an area equivalent to all the land within the
M25, Greater London and parts of the home counties.
The estates are owned by a mixture of lords,
dukes, earls and barons as well as bankers,
businessmen and firms based in offshore tax havens.
MPs will debate the issue of grouse shooting on
Monday, as the result of an official petition
backed by more than 120,000 people which demands
a ban on driven shooting, where beaters flush birds towards the guns.
The petition claims the management of grouse
moors leads to the illegal killing of birds of
prey such as hen harriers, which prey on grouse,
and the legal killing of foxes, stoats and
mountain hares. It adds that the heather burning
involved could worsen flooding and climate change.
These shocking new figures reveal the true,
horrifying scale of grouse moors in England and
the madness of the current farm payments system
that subsidises them, said Guy Shrubsole of Friends of the Earth.
Instead of handing out taxpayers money to
billionaires and offshore firms to indulge in an
elite sport, the government must reform farm
payments so public money is spent on public goods
like tree-planting, restoring wildlife
habitats, farming sustainably and preventing
flooding downstream, he said. The future of the
£3bn a year the UK receives in EU agricultural
subsidies is a key part of the Brexit debate.
Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland
Association, said driven grouse shooting played
an important role in conservation: Almost
two-thirds of Englands upland sites of special
scientific interest (SSSIs) are managed grouse
moors. Management has helped conserve this unique
landscape, whereas elsewhere in Britain it has
been lost to afforestation, windfarms or overgrazing.
Grouse shooting in England and Wales leads to
more than £15m a year being spent in rural areas
and supports more than 1,500 jobs, according to
Anderson. She said: There is no place for the
illegal killing of any wildlife and no place in
the Moorland Association for a grouse moor owner
or manager found to have broken the law.
The Friends of the Earth investigation took a
Moorland Association map showing keepered grouse
moors in England and compared it with government
datasets and satellite images, which show where
burning has taken place, to calculate the area.
It found 550,000 acres of grouse moor, all in the north of England.
FoE then used Land Registry data to identify 30
of the grouse moor estates, which cover 300,000
acres of the total. These estates received £4m of
taxpayer subsidies in 2014 via the EU common agricultural policy (CAP).
The largest subsidy was given to the Lilburn
estate in Northumberland, owned by Duncan
Davidson, the founder of housebuilding giant
Persimmon Homes. In 2014, the estate received
£1.6m in CAP subsidy, with another £1.3m in 2015.
The Abbeystead estate in Lancashire owned by
the Duke of Westminsters Grosvenor estate
received £7,200 in farm subsidies in 2014 and
£203,000 in 2015. The Grosvenor Estate describes
Abbeystead as one of the premier sporting
estates in the UK and it is reputed to hold the
record for most grouse shot in a single day: a
total of 2,929 birds killed by eight shooters on 12 August 1915.
The Mossdale estate in the Yorkshire Dales, owned
by the Van Cutsem family, obtained £54,000 in
subsides in 2014 and £170,000 in 2015. In June,
the estate resigned from the Moorland Association
after a keeper was filmed setting illegal pole traps.
Records in Companies House show that some of the
30 estates identified by Friends of the Earth are
owned by firms registered in offshore tax havens,
such as the British Virgin Islands, Liechtenstein, Jersey and Guernsey.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
(RSPB) does not support the petition to ban
driven grouse shooting, but argues that new laws
are needed. As currently practised, intensive
driven grouse shooting is a negative
environmental impact, said the RSPBs Jeff
Knott. Grouse shooting can deliver benefits [for
some birds], but not enough grouse moors are
delivering to the highest standards.
The RSPB wants grouse shoots to require licences,
which can be removed if the moors are not managed
properly or if wildlife crimes occur. Voluntary
approaches clearly havent worked, said Knott.
There is denial that there is any problem and
anyone who says otherwise is called anti-shooting.
A spokesperson for the Department of Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs said: We continue to work
with conservation groups and landowners to ensure
sustainable grouse shooting balances both environmental and economic needs.
The UKs forthcoming departure from the EU has
sparked a fierce debate about the future of
agricultural subsidies. It was revealed in
September that a billionaire Saudi prince
received £400,000 a year to subsidise a farm where he breeds racehorses.
The National Trust and many green NGOs have
argued for a complete overhaul, ending payments
for simply owning land and only rewarding farmers
who improve the environment and help wildlife.
The suggestion is opposed by the National Farmers
Union, which says food production is vital.
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