MP’s game bird shoot trip blasted

Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood
Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood

A petition calling for Hucknall MP Mark Spencer to refuse luxury gifts from grouse shooting lobbyists has been launched amid fears the industry’s land management increases flooding risks.

The campaign by Richard Bissett was started on the 38 Degrees website after it emerged the MP recently received a £772 shooting weekend, courtesy of lobbying group British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

Copyright Ross Parry

Copyright Ross Parry

The petition, which has already gathered over 100 signatures, is also calling for the MP to lend his support to a national campaign to ban driven grouse shooting

Mr Bissett, 27, of High Street, Hucknall, said: “We are asking our MP to stop accepting gifts from shooting lobbyists and from now on support a ban on the damaging practice of driven grouse shooting.

“Government subsidies support this practice. At a time when everywhere else is feeling the brunt of cuts why aren’t millionaire landowners?”

He added that the industry promotes the illegal killing of grouse predators and the management of grouse moors causes higher flood risks downriver, increasing water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions due to the practice of burning the moors to keep a habitat that boosts grouse numbers.

Entries in the register of MPs’ interests revealed Mr Spencer was treated to “one day’s shooting and one night’s accommodation” by BASC on December 17 last year, along with four other Tories at the grade-II-listed Hoar Cross, described on its website as a “stately home retreat that pairs period style with modern luxury and attentive service.” The total cost of the trip for BASC came to £3,860 — £772 for each MP.

The Green Party has raised concerns during recent flooding over how managing land for grouse shooting prevents drainage, with devastating consequences for communities downstream.

Councillor Keir Morrison said: “Sherwood needs an MP that will tackle child poverty, sub standard housing, a buckling NHS and get more police on the streets not an MP that will work in the interests of corporate lobbyists bearing gifts.”

Mr Bissett, who works for the anti-fur trade campaign Respect for Animals, said his campaign had been re-tweeted by TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham, who invited Mr Spencer to come out looking for hen harriers.

He said: “He won’t find any because of driven grouse shooting. The problem with lobbyists is that they keep the debate out of the mainstream. Given that Mr Spencer is a legislator, it is disappointing that lobbyists are giving him luxury gifts.”

He plans to send Mr Spencer a copy of Inglorious, a book by Mark Avery which makes the case for banning driven grouse shooting.