On Friday 27th January, the High Court ordered a full judicial review of an attempt by Natural England to ban heather burning on blanket bog moorland.
The unprecedented action by Natural England to impose a ban on Walshaw Moor Estate in the South Pennines has major implications for grouse moor owners and land managers across England.
Mr Justice Singh, sitting at the High Court in Leeds, rejected Natural England’s attempts using Regulation 23 under the Habitats Regulations 2010 to impose an immediate ban on heather burning, grazing and the use of vehicles on blanket bog on Walshaw Moor. Instead, he agreed with the Estate’s application that burning, grazing and vehicle use should be allowed pending the judicial review hearing. The estate offered to restrict burning to certain areas and operate in full compliance with Defra’s Burning Code.
The judge ordered a full judicial review of the actions of Natural England and said there were serious and important issues involved in the case which are of wider public interest. The judge granted Walshaw Moor Estate permission to argue its case at an expedited judicial review hearing to be held next month.
In addition to the judicial review a public inquiry is currently being held in Leeds in which the estate is appealing against a decision by Natural England to restrict heather burning, which had been granted to the estate in 1995.