Bracken row ban lifted – for now

Covey of Red Grouse pictured at Wemmergill ''�Moorland Association /Lynne Moore ''image Ref MB/5'small file

Covey of Red Grouse pictured at Wemmergill ''�Moorland Association /Lynne Moore ''image Ref MB/5'small file

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Campaigners in Nidderdale have been granted a temporary reprieve over their use of a banned herbicide to preserve treasured moorland.

The European Union had banned a substance called Asulam – the only one, campaigners say, which can stop bracken from spreading out of control.

Without it, they claim, the county’s grouse industry and the region’s rural economy would be badly hit.

But the EU’s ruling has now been put on hold after intensive campaigning and the Government’s Advisory Committee has said the substance can be used until the end of this year’s grouse season in October.

“It gives us time to further galvanise efforts to safeguard Asulam’s long-term use in protecting vast tracts of precious moorland from massive bracken infestation,” said Robert Benson, chairman of the Moorland Association.

“Without this safe, selective, government-approved herbicide, bracken would change the face of Britain’s countryside, devastating wildlife and destroying grouse moor management.”

As reported previously, the ban was brought in after concerns were raised about the use of Asulam by spinach growers in parts of mainland Europe.

There is around 365,000 acres of heather moorland in Yorkshire and Mr Benson said without Asulam half of it would already be lost.

Simon Thorp, Bracken Control Group coordinator, said the long-term future for Asulam was still uncertain: “The battle over bracken has only temporarily been won.”