Rachael Maskell is correct, freak weather events cause rivers to rise and flood (We can’t just build higher flood walls’, The Press, February 25).

However, falsely blaming grouse moors for flooding is irresponsible and is feeding off the distress and misery of those affected by the floods to further anti-shooting propaganda.

Well-managed grouse moors in the uplands play a vital role in soaking up rain in the upper catchment. Ongoing flood prevention work will continue on grouse moors, from blocking drainage grips to planting trees in the right locations to help prevent flooding downstream.

There is no simple answer to fix the flooding issues of the Ouse and other rivers and it will involve a holistic management approach across the whole catchment.

Gareth Dockerty,

Uplands officer,

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation,

Marford Mill


Many birds benefit from moorland burning

Mike Potter makes several interesting points in his letter (Benefits of a ban on moorland burning, February 25).

Whilst climate change was unquestionably a factor in the Australian wildfires many of Australia’s indigenous people have strongly criticised the current land management policies that have curbed traditional burning polices (which they have been utilising successfully for 60,000 years).

Dismissing the possibility of wildfires on Yorkshire’s moorland based on the “chillier” weather is over-simplistic – the 2019 wildfire on Caithness’s Flow Country (which doubled Scotland’s entire carbon emissions for the six days that it burned) is proof that living in a cooler climate is no guarantee against wildfires.

A recent review by the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service recognises controlled burning as a safe, effective and very efficient suppression method for our moorland.

A paper on the Impact of Management on Avian Communities in the Scottish Highlands shows that curlew, which the RSPB consider the UK’s species of highest conservation concern, are more abundant as the percentage of recently burnt ground increases.

Golden plover have also been proven to prefer to nest in areas of heather, particularly where burning has occurred in the last five years.

And it is not just waders which benefit – last year reported sightings from 14 grouse moors by gamekeepers on the North York Moors revealed 25 pairs of Merlin displaying breeding behaviour – with at least 56 young Merlin observed on the wing, suggesting a high rate of successful fledging.

I extend an invitation to Mr Potter to visit us up on the moors to see the fantastic conservation work we are doing, and the wildlife that has benefitted, for himself.

George Winn-Darley,

Buttercrambe, York