Letter: Blazes on the moorland

Walking earlier this week along Derwent Edge, I was appalled by the sight of numerous blazes on the open moorland.
The blazing heatherThe blazing heather
The blazing heather

Looking to the north from the high point of Back Tor, there were at least eight separate fires visible, together sending up huge plumes of dark grey smoke.

These were then caught by the wind and blown down towards the east, passing over the surfaces of Strines and Dale Dike reservoirs, and onwards to envelope the villages of Low and High Bradfield.

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These fires are deliberately set - often with the aid of petrol sprayed over the site - in order to burn off old heather and other vegetation, and thus make conditions ideal for grouse shooting.

No regard is paid as to the damage done to the burnt moorland or to the air pollution created by this activity.

Not only was drinking water being contaminated by poisonous chemicals contained in the smoke, but local residents - as in the Bradfield villages and beyond - were having their health impaired by breathing in the noxious fumes.

At a time when there is great concern about the dangers posed to public health by woodburners, it seems extraordinary that such gross antisocial practices are permitted.

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The perpetrators of these fires do it for their personal gain and to satisfy the pleasure certain types of people take in killing "sitting ducks”, which is essentially what the grouse nesting on these moors are during the shooting season.

There are much better uses for open moorland, from providing healthy and pleasurable activities for walkers and nature lovers, to acting as valuable carbon sinks by the planting of sphagnum mosses and other CO2 extracting plants.

It is surely time that an end was put to the use of moorland for grouse shooting, by the creation and use of effective legislative powers.

It is folly to expect that those profiting from and enjoying this “sport” might consider either the interests of the general public or the need for generating a healthy environment.

Stephen Blomfield

Sheffield, S10

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