Euro spinach ban could permanently harm moors

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MOORLAND owners fear an EU ruling on spinach could threaten the centuries-old tradition of ‘the glorious twelfth’.

Moorland Association (MA)members say a European ban on the only herbicide to effectively control bracken will change the face of the Borders countryside, devastate wildlife and destroy land worth around £100m a year.

Brussels legislation means this is the last summer land can be sprayed with Asulam, leaving tracts of precious countryside vulnerable to bracken infestation.

Asulam was banned following safety concerns over aerial spraying by continental spinach growers.

MA members are facing the end of their successful stewardship of over 850,000 acres of rare and globally recognised heather moorland.

“Rare wildlife and habitats, including endangered species, will face extinction once bracken swamps their breeding ground. The impact on grouse management, jobs and ultimately how moorland looks will be dire.

“Game can’t be shot on Sunday, which means the glorious twelfth gives way to the thirteenth this year, and you can’t help thinking there’s an unlucky resonance.”

MA vice chairman George Winn-Darley explained: “Without Asulam, we would have already lost 50 per cent of of our heather.

“Designed to safeguard continentally grown spinach, the ban will be devastating to our rural economy.

“Grouse breeding will be badly hit, along with the shooting industry, which creates 42,500 days of work a year and supports over 1,500 jobs.”

The bulk of the country’s moorland lies within key tourist areas and has Site of Special Scientific Interest status. Ironically, it is protected under European law for plants and birds.