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Sheffield MP calls for ban on destructive moorland burning

Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake will lead a debate in parliament today calling for an end to a practice which worsens flooding in South Yorkshire and accelerates global heating.

Olivia Blakeimg1

Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake.

A Sheffield MP has called for a ban on moorland burning for grouse shooting, a practice that releases CO2 into the environment and worsens flooding downstream.

Olivia Blake, whose Hallam constituency includes some of the moorlands above Sheffield, will lead a non-binding debate in Westminster Hall this afternoon.

The government have indicated several times in recent years that they intend to introduce a ban, but have not yet put forward any legislation.

"The continued practice of moorland burning is causing irreparable damage to the natural environment in and around Sheffield," Blake told Now Then. "It’s throwing millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, destroying biodiversity and increasing flooding."

On Monday night, environment minister Zac Goldsmith told Sky News that he supports a ban, but did not explain why the government have failed to act so far.

Moorland is burnt by landowners to provide the right conditions for breeding grouse, which are then shot for sport between October and April.

Barren moorland has less capacity to soak up rainwater, causing it to run off the moors and into rivers downstream. This exacerbates flooding in cities like Sheffield, which have experienced dangerously high river levels in recent years.

Floods in Calder Valley towns including Todmorden and Hebden Bridge have been linked to burning on Yorkshire's moors.

Government attempts to persuade wealthy landowners to stop moorland burning voluntarily have reportedly been unsuccessful.

In September, before the start of this year's grouse shooting season, government ministers were accused by climate campaigners of deliberately stalling plans to ban moorland burning.

"A year ago the government pledged to end this practice - but their voluntary approach to stopping the burns isn’t working," said Blake, who added that the burning was causing "irreversible damage".

"Only a complete ban on this practice will mean we can tackle the climate emergency, reach our net-zero targets, halt biodiversity loss and protect our communities from flooding."

The debate, which will start at 4:30pm today in Westminster Hall, will be streamed online.

by Sam Gregory (he/him)
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