The chairman of the National Gamekeepers' Organisation, David Pooler, has written to ITV asking about a recent item broadcast on ITV Calendar, their dedicated news programme for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
Here is the NGO response to the wildfire feature:
"We would like to raise some concerns regarding an ITV Calendar programme that went out earlier this month, presented by Victoria Whittam.
The item covered a wildfire which broke out on a moor in Calderdale, near Heptonstall, damaging around 80 acres of moorland. As is so often the case in these situations, gamekeepers and local farmers were some of the first people on the scene, and they tackled the flames using specialised equipment until the fire services arrived. Once the fire services arrived, gamekeepers and fire fighters worked alongside one another to get the fire under control. The fire services have to leave at nightfall. However, gamekeepers remained on site, and eventually managed to bring the fire under control at 1am.
ITV Calendar interviewed Richard Hawley from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. In his interview, he repeatedly commended the work that gamekeepers had done in tackling this fire. We understand that he also specifically asked the reporter to include his mention of the gamekeepers’ efforts, and he was reassured that it would be included. And, in the Facebook post written by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services after the event, they wrote that “we worked with Walshaw & Lancashire Moor gamekeepers & local farmers to extinguish the fire – a huge thank you to everyone for the support!
As a result of this we are hugely disappointed that the programmed editors removed any mention of gamekeepers whatsoever – particularly when ITV had assured Richard that mention of their hard work would be included. Please could you explain to us the reasoning behind this?
Gamekeepers in the uplands have specific wildfire training, and regularly tackle wildfires when they break out, as well as carrying out work to stop them starting in the first place. The area in question is on deep peat, and gamekeepers had put in fire breaks with a tractor and cutter before the nesting season. All of this work is done to make sure that when wildfires do break out, every effort has been made to prevent them from spreading.
We understand that edits need to be made to interviews. However it seems odd that Richard’s mention of gamekeepers’ work was cut when firstly, he went out of his way to mention them. And secondly, when he was reassured that their work would be acknowledged. Keepers work day in, day out, 365 days a year to look after these moorland environments. It may seem like a small issue, but for their work to be continually ignored is both dispiriting and disheartening.
We look forward to hearing your response."