Sheffield MP Olivia Blake's plea amid increase in number of Yorkshire moor fires

Hallam MP Olivia Blake has coordinated a letter, signed by 30 Labour MPs, including Sheffield’s Paul Blomfield and Clive Betts, to express concern about the growing environmental impact of grouse moor burning and call for stronger legislation.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 11:19 am
Updated Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 9:06 pm

The letter has been sent to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice.

The UK’s peatland makes up around 12 per cent of land area and contains an estimated 3,200 million tonnes of carbon – more than the forests of the UK, France and Germany combined.

According to figures from Natural England, almost three quarters of these peatlands are damaged or degraded, with burning being a growing driver.

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The intensive practice is now the biggest cause of ecological damage to England’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Between the 1940s to the present there has been a seven-fold increase in burning on peatland in England alone.

In Britain between 2001 and 2011, burning rose at a rate of 11 per cent per year.

The practice of burning these peatlands, to engineer optimal breeding habitat for game birds which are shot for sport, has been linked to widespread environmental damage, releasing millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere and harming biodiversity.

The practice is also shown to reduce the ability of bogs to be able to slow water flow, which can lead to heavier flooding after rainfall.

Earlier this year the Committee on Climate Change recommended peat burning should be banned by the end of 2020.