EAST Lancashire’s countryside could be ‘devastated’ by a new EU ruling banning a pesticide used to control bracken, campaigners said.

The Moorland Association said the ruling means traditional grouse shooting could be put at risk.

The start of the 2012 grouse shooting season gets underway on August 13.

The association said the Brussels’ legislation means this is the last summer land in Lancashire can be sprayed with Asulam, ‘leaving tracts of precious countryside vulnerable to massive bracken infestation’.

Jeremy Duckworth, of Bleasdale estate in the Forest of Bowland, has slammed ‘European bureaucracy gone mad’.

He said without the government-approved chemical, countryside and rural livelihoods would be put at serious risk.

“Asulam has been safely used for the control of Bracken for 35 years. It should not be banned because the EEC is now questioning its use on spinach,” he said.

“Protection of heather moorland in Lancashire is paramount. We’ve already been hit by some of the wettest weather on record, bad news in itself for breeding birds. 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.”