SCOTTISH Water has confirmed that it will phase out the burning of peatlands on its properties.

There had been calls for the utility company to follow in the footsteps of Yorkshire Water, who no longer allow burning by their tenants on grouse moors.

Now Scottish Water has confirmed that no new agreements will be issued for burning peatlands on their property.

Previously burning had been permitted as it allows younger, more nutritious heather to be cultivated and serve as a food source for red grouse, boosting their numbers ahead of the shooting season.

However, the practice is fiercely criticised by environmental organisations as peatlands store large amounts of carbon and burning them releases it into the atmosphere.

Wild Moors, an organisation aiming to transition the UK’s uplands away from intensive management for grouse moors, spearheaded the campaign.

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Luke Steele, executive director of Wild Moors, said: “Grouse moors fan the flames of climate change by setting carbon-rich peatlands ablaze despite this making it difficult, if not impossible, to protect and restore these important ecosystems to prevent them from collapse.

“Scottish Water’s decision to phase out burning by grouse shooting tenants is to be commended and serves as an important step towards protecting and restoring peatlands for the benefit of nature, the climate and future generations.”

Peatlands are the country’s largest natural terrestrial carbon store, sequestering more carbon than the forests of the UK, France and Germany combined.

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It is estimated that around 80% of Scotland’s peatlands are depleted, turning the habitat from carbon stores into carbon emitters.

Scottish Water has also launched an ambitious programme of regeneration across its water catchments which aims to improve water quality and contribute towards the fight against climate change.