RSPB raises concerns over Natural England statement – Waltham Moor Estate.

In February we published a story which provided details of a public inquiry being heard at Leeds into an appeal which seeks overturn restricted management activities that have taken place on the Waltham Moor Estate in the South Pennines, including prescribed burning of heather and grazing.

Walshaw Moor Estate either owns, or has the benefit of sporting rights leased to it over, approximately 6,475 hectares of Walshaw and Lancashire Moors which are mainly managed as driven grouse moors.

The moors are part of the South Pennine Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest, the South Pennine Moors Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the South Pennine Moors Special Protection Area (SPA).

The appeal is against a Notice of Modification of Consent issued by Natural England, pursuant to section 28E(6), Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and the inquiry is taking place at the Novotel, on Whitehall Road in Leeds. The five week inquiry ended February 10, 2012 and has now seen a joint statement of settlement between Natural England and the Waltham Moor Estate.  The original article we published in February can be read here.

Update on Walshaw Moor

9 March 2012

Natural England and Walshaw Moor Estate Ltd released the following statement today, confirming that they have now resolved their dispute regarding management activities at Walshaw Moor in the Pennines.

“Walshaw Moor Estate Ltd and Natural England are pleased to confirm that they have resolved their ongoing dispute regarding management activities conducted on the Moor, and confirm that they have entered into a new management regime which is considered beneficial to the environment and biodiversity of the Moor as well as the economic interests of the Estate.

Walshaw Moor Estate Ltd and Natural England look forward to working together in a constructive partnership to further the interests of both conservation and the Estate, to the parties’ mutual benefit, and in the public interest.”

RSPB concerns relating to this agreement

The RSPB has today (9 March 2012) raised a number of concerns about a Natural England statement which confirms the resolution of a dispute about management practices with Walshaw Moor in the Pennines.

In a letter to Natural England’s Chairman Poul Christensen today, the RSPB’s Chief Executive Mike Clarke said that the announcement was ‘opaque and raises a series of questions’.

Natural England took legal steps to curb the excessive and damaging land management practices employed by the Walshaw estate, including action to stop the Walshaw Moor Estate from burning heather on blanket bog to prevent damage to the ecologically sensitive 16,000-acre estate on 9 December 2011.

Despite supporting Natural England’s claims in a recent public inquiry, which has now concluded pending a decision, the RSPB has not been given any details about why Natural England have decided to end all action against the Estate and how the resolution has been reached.

Mike Clarke, said: “Having supported Natural England throughout its legal battle with Walshaw Moor, today’s statement was a surprise. We’re deeply concerned about this decision – what assurances does Natural England have as part of this settlement that the estate will now comply?

“This statement is extremely brief and doesn’t provide any details about how the resolution has been reached. There is clearly a need for some clarification on this matter – it’s in the public interest – so we have written to Natural England’s Chairman today to request this.”

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