The Government has responded to the petition; “Protect grouse moors and grouse shooting”.
The Government stated: ‘Grouse shooting is a legitimate activity that provides economic benefits, jobs and investment in some of our most remote areas and can offer important benefits for wildlife and habitat conservation’.
A report by the UK shooting community (Public & Corporate Economic Consultants report 2014: The Value of Shooting) concludes that the overall environmental and economic impact of game bird shooting is positive; the industry has estimated that £250 million per year is spent on management activities substantially benefiting conservation. For grouse shooting in particular, according to the Moorland Association, estates in England and Wales spent £52.5 million on managing 149 grouse moors for shooting in 2010. Scottish landowners manage a further 150 moors for shooting grouse. The industry also supports 1,520 full time equivalent jobs and is worth £97.7 million across Great Britain.
Grouse shooting takes place in upland areas, which are important for delivering a range of valuable “ecosystem services”, including food and fibre, water regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity and recreational opportunities for health and wellbeing.
The Government is committed to helping create a more sustainable future for the English uplands, including by protecting peatlands through measures such as the Peatland Code.
The Government welcomes the proactive approach taken by game keeping organisations to ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation.
The Government recognises the benefits that grouse shooting, and shooting more widely, bring to individuals, the environment and the rural economy. It is for these reasons that the Government believes shooting and other country pursuits such as hunting and fishing should be protected.
The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the Government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate. The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government.