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The countryside is fighting back

Countryside organisations are banding together to counter the recent decision of United Utilities not to renew shooting leases, reports Felix Petit

Trough of Bowland

The Trough of Bowland is one of the many areas affected by United Utilities' decision

The decision of Britain’s largest corporate landowner, United Utilities (UU), not to renew shooting leases on its land is being hotly contested by countryside organisations.

Countryside Alliance (CA) chief executive Tim Bonner has written an open letter to UU highlighting the failings to the communities they claim to serve. Mr Bonner also cites the false evidence that UU claims has underpinned this decision.

The decision has allegedly been made to manage water quality, quantity and flood mitigation. However, there is no evidence to substantiate the claim that banning upland and lowland shoot management on UU’s landholdings will have any beneficial impact on these issues.

Mo Metcalf-Fisher, head of media for CA, said UU was “throwing shooting under the bus” and that the move seems designed to deflect from the company’s terrible environmental record of polluting rivers. UU was responsible for over 69,000 sewage overflows in 2022.

CA’s e-lobby had last week already been signed by almost 6,000 people.

Meanwhile, BASC has taken out adverts to publicise UU’s failings in Lancashire-based news outlets with a viewership of almost two million. It has urged anyone who opposes the ban to email the UU chief executive at [email protected] to show their outrage at the decision that was made without consultation.