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Hunger striker's protest succeeds in getting government to investigate landowners' burning of moorland

A HUNGER striker’s protest over the damaging effects of landowners burning moorland for grouse breeding has succeeded in getting a government agency to start investigating the practice.

Dongria Kondh began her hunger strike outside Natural England’s office in Leeds yesterday.

She lives in the Calder Valley in the Yorkshire Pennines where communities have been repeatedly devastated by floods, including those caused by Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis this month.

Landowners regularly burn moorlands above the valley to create conditions suitable for grouse breeding and lucrative shooting parties.

The burning destroys water-retaining moss, meaning that heavy rainfall runs off the moors which contributes to flooding in the valley below.

The landowners receive taxpayer-funded subsidies for “maintaining” moorland.

Ms Kondh is co-ordinator of environment group Treesponsibility which has planted more than 250,000 trees to re-forest the Pennines — a measure which should help to alleviate flooding.

Treesponsibility says that for eight years it has lobbied Natural England to investigate the effects of burning by landowners, but says nothing had been done.

Ms Kondh said she launched her hunger strike as a last resort.

Treesponsibility said today: “Natural England will be conducting a site visit to the moor in the week commencing February 24 and will be analysing the evidence in the week commencing March 2.

“Treesponsibility will be meeting with natural England the following week. Dongria Kondh has suspended her hunger strike.”

Natural England, which is part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, did not respond to the Star’s request for a comment.


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