Monday, 19 February 2018

..... in for a Pound

The penny implied is Penny Anderson, she of Penny Anderson Associates. Those who hear "Tweet of the Day" on BBC Radio 4 at 5,58 am weekdays and 8.58 Sundays may not have been surprised to hear her chosen bird was the red grouse.She will have been keen to choose this because it was actually broadcast twice, making sure the message got across.

Why? Because the managing of the moors to encourage the breeding of a superfluity of red grouse has been increasingly under attack recently. And Penny Anderson has been for many years linked to heathland management in the Peak District. 30 years or so ago she produced a report on Blacka Moor which is like a millstone round its neck, something that prevents local jobsworths from looking beyond intrusive management.

The red grouse and its heathland habitat is a good earner for several interests. First the grouse moor owners and their wealthy shooting patrons mostly from the City of London. But also anyone associated with the management of the moors which means keeping it in a condition just right for grouse: that means burning and sheep grazing.

Usually when the question comes up "what do we do about this land?" the various outfits involved decide to pay a handsome fee to Penny Anderson for an 'environmental assessment' or similar. This then gets used to justify the preferred scheme of management. That invariably means keeping the moors treeless and grazing with sheep or in some cases cattle, or both. That's the start of a steady income from farm grants.

No wonder the red grouse is Penny Anderson's favourite bird. And on Tweet of the Day she waxed lyrical in its promotion. But those of us who would like the uplands of Britain to have more trees and fewer red grouse will have our own view on her mournful statement that grouse numbers are in decline. Tell that to those who love to spend their leisure time shooting them.

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