For too long, a small community in Yorkshire has suffered at the hands of a huge landowner. The 16,000-acre Walshaw Estate, a giant grouse moor owned by a wealthy retail tycoon, looms over Hebden Bridge and the Calder Valley. The landowner burns the moor to breed more grouse for sport, and the towns below flood. Enough’s enough: the moor should be owned by the community and managed in its interests.

That’s why we’re organising Take Back The Land: a camp and land occupation near Hebden Bridge from Friday 10th May to Monday 13th May. Everyone is welcome: we plan to protest, hold workshops, sing songs, and take action together to call for land reform in England. Please bring a tent, sturdy footwear, warm clothes, and a strong desire to change the world. Come join us on the wuthering heights of Walshaw Moor to take back the land!

Why take action?

  • This is about a community fighting back against a large landowner who’s trashed the land for an elite bloodsport and worsened floods downstream. For years, the community in Hebden Bridge and the surrounding Calder Valley has had to wage a David-vs-Goliath struggle with Richard Bannister, the wealthy landowner who owns the 16,000-acre Walshaw Estate grouse moor. The situation epitomises the inequality of land ownership in this country: less than 1% of the population own half of all England. We need greater equality of land ownership.
  • The landowner’s intensive slash-and-burn management of the moor has deprived the community of the natural flood defences they need. As long ago as 2013, Hebden residents successfully lodged a complaint with the European Commission against the Walshaw Estate’s practices. Now the UK Government agrees that burning of protected blanket bog has to stop, yet still Walshaw Estate persists – propped up by over £280k in public farm subsidies in 2017. We need the government to ban the burn.  
  • It’s time to take back control of the land we depend on: England needs a Community Right to Buy, like now exists in Scotland. If the community in the Calder Valley were given control of Walshaw Moor, they would manage it properly – slowing the flow of water downstream, restoring the land to ecological health and locking up carbon to address the climate emergency. But for that to happen, politicians need to change the law. We need land reform in England, now.

Site of the Land Camp & Occupation will be revealed early May.

For more information, email landjusticeuk@gmail.com

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