The RSPB has submitted a formal complaint to the European Commission over the handling of an estate in the South Pennines where a protected area of blanket bog habitat is under threat.
Following six months of investigation, the charity believes Natural England has contravened European environmental protection legislation in its dealings with the Walshaw Moor Estate, near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.
The site is home to an important area of blanket bog - a globally rare and threatened habitat of delicate mosses which supports scarce breeding wading birds such as dunlin and golden plover. Walshaw Moor is so vital for these species and habitats that it is protected by the highest European environmental designations.
The management of the estate - including burning and draining of the bog - has caused Natural England to raise serious concerns in recent years. However, in March this year, Natural England dropped legal proceedings against the estate, including a prosecution on 43 grounds of alleged damage.