I have received correspondence from a number of constituents raising concerns about driven grouse shooting and the protection of hen harriers.
Many people have strongly held views about this subject. I want to see a vibrant, working countryside enhanced by a diverse environment. It is essential that wildlife is properly protected. Anyone involved in game management must respect the country's conservation laws, which are among the toughest in the world.
That being said, shooting as a whole is worth about £2 billion a year to the economy, much of it in some of our remotest communities. It supports more than 70,000 full-time equivalent jobs, 1,520 relating directly to grouse shooting.
Habitat conservation is of tremendous importance and moorland management is vital to biodiversity. It is important to recognise that healthy, active peatland provides numerous environmental benefits and ecosystem services including natural cover for grouse. The Government has always been clear of the need to phase out burning of protected blanket bog to conserve these vulnerable habitats and are looking at how legislation could achieve this. Real progress is being made in promoting sustainable alternatives and the Government have urged landowners to adopt these and continue to work with them constructively to further improve management practices and peat condition.
I have written to The Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in order to ensure my constituents concerns are heard at the highest level and I look forward to being able to update this once I have received an appropriate response.
Thank you for taking the time to get in touch.