13 August 2001
Farmers’ anger as Twelfth arrives

By Alistair Driver

LIVESTOCK farmers have condemned a decision to allow grouse shooting to go ahead in areas of the country infected with foot-and-mouth disease.

The traditional “Glorious Twelfth” start to the season was marred in controversy after the government said it would grant special licenses for shooting.

The move provoked a furious response from some farmers, who said it would increase the risk that their animals could become infected.

Ralph Waggett, secretary of the Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association, said there was huge concern among Swaledale breeders on the Yorkshire Moors.

“The main concern is about the beaters. We do not know where they have been the day before or where they will go to the next day,” he said.

The process of driving grouse can also have the effect of moving sheep from place to place, which further increases disease risk, added Mr Waggett.

But David Bredin, director of the Countryside Alliance campaign for shooting, said the economic benefits of the sport outweighed any disease risk.

“There is a balance to be struck between the need to control foot-and-mouth and the damage that the controls do to other important industries such as tourism.”

The Moorland Association claims grouse shooting contributes more than 12.5 million to the rural economy in England alone.

It said there was “no great risk” if biosecurity precautions are observed.

Licences are being granted obtained for shooting in infected areas, but they will not be granted for land within 3km of infected farms.