The culls continue ….

The UK Government agency responsible for nature conservation appears to be attracting a lot of press coverage recently. Sadly, it is for all the wrong reasons. I seem to recall that Natural England once had a strap line describing themselves as being the guardians of the countryside but I may be mistaken. There are a few rare species, gems within their ranks but they are in decline and as difficult to save as the nations diminishing wildlife. Three quite damming articles have appeared in the last two days.

On the 22 May Tony Juniper writes about the anti nature narrative being hard to fathom. Juniper like many hardened campaigners and advocates for environmental conservation, is not expecting the ‘ConDem’ Government to strengthen wildlife protection after the reveiew of EU environment laws. Given the language used in the Terms of Reference it’s easy to see how anyone could fail to draw the same conclusion.

Then on the following day, 23 May Damien Carrington writes about Goverment licensing to cull raptors, a historic precedent without any public consultation.

Then the other item by Leo Hickman reveals more wildlife culls.

Much of the information upon which the articles are based has been secured through Freedom of Information requests made by the media or the RSPB. It may be that if this continues, that FoI legislation might be the next target for review and reform, perhaps it already is?

Clearly the role of Natural England is already seeing a change of emphasis ahead of any formal announcement of the outcome of the recent Triennial Review. The jury is still out (perhaps), but interim indications can be found on official Government websites.

There is also some excellent opportunities for business to negotiate favourable outcomes if they make early approaches to the Governments advisers, ‘discretionary advice’ comes at a price but its all relative if it avoids a costly EIA required under EU regulations. NE will advise how to mitigate first which will avoid, in the words of the Chancellor George Osbourne “ridiculous burden on business'”.

If there were a referendum, a public vote, would the “Muzzled Watchdog” be put out of its misery and culled? Its certainly a good lapdog these days, helping developers, assisting landowners – I must look up its statutory duties, unless they too have been culled?

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