‘It has become them and us’: the battle to burn England’s moorlands

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To grouse farmers, it is a vital act of preservation; to environmentalists, it is arson. Will a ban on peat burning add fuel to the fire?

It’s been dry for days. The breeze gently ruffling the tops of maroon-coloured heather and clumps of tall, pale grasses is neither too strong nor too weak. There is a pleasing squelch to the moss-covered peat below. These are the perfect conditions for burning.

Three gamekeepers from the Bingley Moor grouse estate in West Yorkshire begin their final burn of the afternoon – on land the government’s nature protection agency, Natural England, classes as blanket bog.

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