Cumbrian MP Sue Hayman is among the Labour politicians calling for a review of grouse shooting amid claims that it damages important natural habitats.

The 16-week shooting season started last Monday - the so-called Glorious Twelfth. Labour says that consideration should be given to “viable alternatives”.

The move threatens to put the party on a collision course with landowners who argue that shooting creates employment while helping to protect the environment.

Grouse moors cover around 550,000 acres of land in England and Scotland. Labour says that the process of draining the land in preparation for the shooting season destroys “huge swathes” of plant life and kills animals.

Moors are often burned, which critics say increases the likelihood of wildfires and flooding while increasing carbon emissions and reducing their capacity to absorb carbon. Labour is also unhappy that the 10 largest English grouse moors received a total of £3m in annual farm subsidies. Shadow environment secretary, and Workington MP, Sue Hayman said: “The costs of grouse shooting on our environment and wildlife needs to be properly weighed up against the benefit of land owners profiting from shooting parties. There are viable alternatives to grouse shooting such as simulated shooting and wildlife tourism. The time has come for a proper review into the practice.”

Grouse moor owners say they take pride in their environmental commitment. Amanda Anderson of the Moorland Association, said: “Grouse moors are a friend of the environment. If our moors were not managed for grouse shooting we simply would not have the same abundance of wildlife. Controlled heather burning - a necessary part of moorland restoration - helps prevent the spread and reduce the severity of wildfires which have devastated many parts of the uplands in recent times.

“Many Labour MPs who have come to visit the moors have discovered the enormous contribution gamekeepers and private investment makes to managing the moors with knock-on benefits to the local economy and social cohesion. Work with Government to safeguard our peatlands to store carbon and combat climate change is in full swing.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Government has “no plans to undertake a review. The Government continues to support a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation which respects and protects wildlife and habitats.”

Grouse shooting locations in Cumbria include the Helbeck Estate, near Brough in the northern Pennines. Kerry Woodhouse, regional coordinator for the Northern Pennines Moorland Group, said: “Without managed shooting the moors would just be overgrown bracken, devoid of the diverse wildlife we have today.”