23 March 2012
Natural England and Walshaw Moor Estate Ltd have recently entered into a 25 year agreement that provides a new and detailed framework for management on Walshaw and Lancashire Moors until 2037. This framework provides improved environmental protection for the Moors and also allows the Estate to conduct its business activities.
Walshaw and Lancashire Moors form part of the South Pennine Moors SAC, SPA and SSSI conservation sites. These sites contain rare and globally important habitat - including blanket bog where peat is actively formed and support specialized plant and animal species. However, they are also highly sensitive to damage if managed inappropriately or intensively.
Until now there have been no agreed limits to management activities, such as burning, grazing and vehicular use - the consents that have been in place since 1995 have permitted these operations to take place in perpetuity and without limitation on their scale or location. Natural England does not consider that these consents provided adequate protection to these important habitats.
The benefits of the agreement are, therefore, significant. Firstly, the Estate has agreed to relinquish the earlier, imprecise and unlimited consents in favour of a new consent agreement that operates for a defined period of time (25 years) and that specifies agreed limits on the scale of management activities. Secondly, the agreed level of management provides greater opportunity for habitat conservation and recovery. Now, for the first time, burning activities on the Walshaw Estate will be subject to specific controls. Under the terms of the consent, burning will not be permitted in areas where heather amounts to less than 50% of the vegetation cover and will not be permitted in most of the areas defined as sensitive by the Heather and Grass Burning Code 2007. In the areas where it has been agreed that burning can take place, limits have been set regarding the length of the burning rotation. The agreement sets restrictions on the maintenance and creation of infrastructure (such as roads/ tracks, car parks and grouse butts) and there is also agreement relating to weed treatment, stocking densities and vehicle usage. See full copy of the consent notice: (3.15mb).
An active programme of peat re-wetting has also been agreed, so that blanket bog restoration can take place.
With an agreement now in place, both parties have brought an end to the legal actions that they had been pursuing. For the first time – and with the agreement of both parties - an agreed framework is now in place for managing this important site, bringing with it the potential to help move the site into more favourable condition over time.