‘Destroying the environment so birds can get shot by toffs’
Plus, the Steel City Beer and Cider festival begins
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
Sheffield’s proximity to the beautiful Peak District is a source of pride to all who live here. But it doesn’t come without its problems. Over the last week, multiple large fires have been lit by grouse farmers on the moors above the city, reigniting a decades old row over the harm the sport causes to the environment. Today, we look at some of the arguments around grouse hunting and the prospects for a total ban.
As well as that we have a wonderful photograph taken on Sunday morning in the Peak District, details of a fascinating-sounding talk about the history of Sheffield, and a beautiful new eco-house in Kelham Island.
Catch up and coming up
As the cost of living crisis enters its first winter, our weekend read was about how the people of one deprived Sheffield estate are trying to make sure their most vulnerable residents survive. You can still read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 816 playing members. The first included a piece by me about the homelessness programme Housing First and whether the scheme is being given enough resources in Sheffield to succeed. And the second included a mouth-watering story by Mina Miller about the underrated joys of the restaurants of Spital Hill. An extract from that second piece is below:
The kifta is a large bulgur dumpling stuffed with a sweet mix of ground lamb, almonds, onions, and sultanas, bathed in a flavourful tomato sauce. My friend from the counter cuts the dumpling open on a plate for me, to ensure I get the full and correct experience. The sauce has beetroot greens, green pepper and dill, and is rich and cloudy, flecked with oil. It’s an absolute stunner of a dish. I ask when it’s served. “Saturday always,” my friend says, laughing. “Sunday sometimes. The chef can be lazy.”
This week we’ll send two more including one about a Sheffield type foundry which had a huge global impact on the world of internet memes, and another about the long-standing connections between Sheffield and Donetsk as the war in Ukraine enters a dangerous new phase. To get both of those and help fund a new way of doing journalism in Sheffield focused on serving readers rather than advertisers, please consider subscribing using the button below. It costs just £1.34 a week if you pay upfront for a year (£70).
Editor’s appeal: Last week, The Tribune passed another important milestone on our path to sustainability — 800 paying members. After just 18 months, we think that’s a pretty good start. However, we’ve still got a long way to go to create a newsroom in Sheffield that can take on the kind of stories and investigations that we really want to. Our next target is 1,000 members. Please help us get there.
The big picture: ‘The pimple’ 🏔
Thanks to Twitter user Moors and Edges for letting us use his wonderful picture of Win Hill Pike near Ladybower reservoir — known locally as “the pimple” — that was taken in stunning sunny weather on Sunday morning.
This week’s weather ⛅️
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say a bright and breezy mix is favoured this week, with showers more common after midweek.
Monday ☀️ Long spells of sunshine develop after a wet night. Gusty winds from the southwest, but it'll feel very mild again with highs of 16°C.
Tuesday 🌤️ Another day of good sunny spells, though cloud may increase later. Similarly mild, with lighter winds from the east as high pressure builds further north. Highs of 15°C.
Wednesday 🌥️ A warm front moves northwards, bringing increased cloud and the odd shower. Many places dry and reasonably bright with highs of 15°C.
Thursday 🌦️ Likely to be an unsettled day, with heavy showers most prominent during the morning. Breezy from the south or southeast with highs of 16°C.
Friday 🌦️ Low pressure continues to be a growing influence with some decent sunshine but also further scattered showers developing. Staying mild with 16°C the high.
Outlook: No major changes for the weekend, with a changeable mix of sunshine and showers expected. Remaining mild or very mild throughout.
The big story: ‘Destroying the environment so birds can get shot by toffs’
Top line: The hills above Sheffield are ablaze again as grouse farmers burn vast expanses of moorland. Now a climate emergency has been declared, should we really carry on doing this?
Fanning the flames: In the past week, controlled burns of moorland heather have been spotted at places across the Peak District. Near Sheffield, fires were seen on Strines and Broomhead moors as well as on Shatton Moor in the Hope Valley.
Landowners burn the old heather as a way of encouraging new growth. The young shoots produced provide the nutritious food on which thousands of grouse feed.
However, the burns damage the peat the heather grows on, a “carbon sink” which stores more CO2 than all the forests in the UK, France and Germany combined.
Angry reaction: Social media was awash with images of the fires last week as people posted photos and videos of the burns to their Twitter feeds. Bob Berzins from Moorland Monitors said the fires underlined the need for a complete ban on grouse shooting while Ann Grange said the burns caused “environmental destruction” and sent carbon emissions through the roof “for the sake of birds bred to be shot by toffs”.
Air quality: As well as damaging the peat underneath the heather, many people are also worried about the pollution the fires cause. If the wind blows in the wrong direction, smoke can tumble down the western valleys towards Sheffield, raising pollution levels in the city. A burn on October 8 produced dangerous levels of PM2.5 pollution in Sheffield, tiny particles small enough to get into people’s lungs and even enter their blood.
The rural economy: While many would like to see grouse farming banned, not everyone agrees. As this excellent piece in The Guardian from last year makes clear, hundreds of businesses rely on grouse shooting parties. Some anti-shooting campaigners agree there would need to be a “just transition” for people whose jobs depend on the industry.
A partial ban: In May 2021, the government introduced a partial ban on grouse moor burning, acknowledging they were “damaging to peatland formation” and made restoring these habitats to their natural state “more difficult or impossible”.
However, a large proportion of grouse moors are exempt from the new rules because they are located on degraded shallow peat, not blanket bog.
In the Peak District, it is estimated that a third of grouse moors are exempt despite urgently needing to be restored to a healthier, deeper state.
Bottom line: Such is the environmental damage caused by grouse farming, it’s difficult to find any justification for the practice at all. Not only do the burns damage peat, reduce air quality and prevent moorland from soaking up rainfall, birds and small mammals that prey on the grouse are also routinely persecuted by the industry. Sheffield City Council are one of 14 local authorities calling for a total ban — but such a ban would need government support.
Home of the week 🏡
This “one of a kind” two-bedroom eco-house in the heart of Kelham Island has a lovely open plan living area and direct access to the shared roof terrace. It is on the market for £342,500.
Our media picks 🎧
‘You don’t lead line a hall unless you’re stopping Russians from listening in’ 📺 A nice Q&A in The Times with former BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker. Dan has lived in Sheffield since the mid-1990s when he came here to study at university, and now lives here with his three kids, wife Sarah and her mum and dad. He also claims his house’s hidden doors, fake electricity points and lead-lined walls have convinced him the previous owners were spies.
Why Sheffield has turned to Canada for business inspiration 💼 An interesting piece in the Yorkshire Post about Sheffield Chamber director Faaiza Ramji. Despite living 4,000 miles away in Edmonton, Canada, Ms Ramji was made a non-executive director in March 2021, and is now encouraging other chambers to look further afield when they are appointing new board members. “We’re limiting ourselves when we only look at geography,” she says.
Will masterplan transform one of Sheffield’s poorest estates? 🏡 Now Then report on a new £90m regeneration scheme for Gleadless Valley which could lead the way in combating the cost of living crisis. Most of the money will be spent on building new homes and improving the condition of the rest. However, when it comes to retrofitting the older homes to improve insulation and energy efficiency, the authors say the masterplan is “disappointingly vague”.
Container Park is finally ship shape…or is it? 🏗️
It’s been a bit of a saga but it looks like this week, finally, the new Container Park on Fargate will serve its first customers. The attraction was meant to open in the summer, but has been beset by continual delays. Five of the original vendors have now pulled out and on Saturday the council said it would not now open today as planned due to a problem over the paperwork. Still, hopefully when it is finally up and running, it will bring some life back to a part of the city centre that desperately needs it.
Things to do 📆
Talk 📚 On Tuesday, 18 October, Sheffield historian and archaeologist Tim Cooper will give an illustrated talk at the Millennium Gallery about his book The Story of Sheffield as part of the Off The Shelf festival for words. The talk will cover everything from the legends of Robin Hood to the city’s proud industrial origins and its modern-day reinvention as a centre for education, creativity and innovation. Doors open at 7pm and full-priced tickets are £8.
Food and drink 🍻 Beginning on Wednesday (19 October) at Kelham Island Museum is the Steel City Beer and Cider Festival, which is now in its 46th year. You’ll buy drink tokens and pick up a commemorative glass on the day, which you can then have filled to your heart’s content with your choice of over 300 different drinks. There'll also be live music, street food, a bookshop, traditional pub games and more. The festival lasts until Saturday, 22 October.
Music 🎸 Playing Sheffield City Hall on Thursday, 20 October are the legendary Scottish duo The Proclaimers, who are currently on a 35-date tour of the UK and Ireland. Expect all the band’s classics including Letter from America, I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) and Sunshine on Leith, as well as tracks from the Edinburgh-born twins’ 12th studio album Dentures Out, which was released in September. Tickets are priced £43.60 and doors open at 7.30pm.
Ride on time 🚲
Dozens of Sheffield cyclists took to the streets yesterday for a Halloween-themed mass cycle ride. The riders, many of them in fancy-dress and carrying sound systems, set off from Tudor Square before making their way to Endcliffe Park and ending at Sheffield General Cemetery. The monthly events are aimed at making cycling easier and safer in the city. To find out more visit the Facebook page.
Tribune Tips: If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email email@example.com. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity. Get in touch.