Worth £9bn, Duke of Westminster given £4m subsidy in 2014 for grouse moor

Tony Gosling 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, Britain’s richest landowner
Damian Carrington @dpcarrington   Friday 28 
October 2016 06.00 BST   Last modified on Saturday 29 October 2016 10.31 BST
England’s 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 taxpayer’s 
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 England’s 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 Westminster’s 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 RSPB’s 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 haven’t 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 UK’s 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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