Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Sells’

‘Moor’ badgering, upland Hen Harriers, Natural England have a new Chief Executive & Beverley Common.

June 27, 2014

BADGERS

The plight of beleaguered brock was brought home to me recently when I attended a meeting to explore ways of safeguarding the last few setts in the area.  We knew the situation was bleak but apparently it’s actually worse than we’d imagined and local naturalists are pretty hardened to public attitude to wildlife and the natural environment.  We were aware that South Yorkshire is the known cruelty capital and Doncaster is particularly bad.

Why do people enjoy inflicting cruelty on animals?  Why are the police unable to secure prosecutions?  Why do such crimes go unpunished?  Perhaps more cattle should be farmed here where there is a reduced badger population and then there would be no need for Paterson to continue his vendeta against the species elsewhere in England?  Recent press coverage questions efficacy of the culls.

HEN HARRIERS

Of persecution, the Hen Harrier epetition “Ban driven grouse shooting” created by Dr Mark Avery continues to secure additional signatures and now stands at 5,861 could it reach the 10,000 threshold by the inglorious 12th?  Anyone interested in attennding a peaceful day out with like minded folk is invited to meet not only Mark but Chris Packham as well, see “Standing up for nature” post for ‘moor’ details.

The Ethical Consumer Research Association (May 2014) has written a very readable, well researched and informed report Turn your back on GROUSE A popular campaign against greed and intensification on England’s grouse shooting estates.

NATURAL ENGLAND

Another bit of news material to any reader interested in the politics of Defra agencies, is the announcement of the new Chief Executive of Natural England, James Cross.  The usual PR material is available on various websites but suffice to encapsulate the spin, Andrews Sells, Natural England’s Chairman, commented: “I am delighted to be able to announce the appointment of James Cross as our new Chief Executive. He brings a wealth of experience which will be invaluable to us.

“Natural England does vital work on behalf of the environment and we are keen to drive forward the programme of reform outlined in the Triennial Review, further develop our status as a trusted advisor to government and build confidence and respect among our many stakeholders and customers for the way we work with them. James will bring an important combination of experience, energy and drive to enable this to happen.”   

Previously CE of the Marine Management Organisation we await evidence to back up the words.  Interestingly Dave Webster who was appointed Natural England’s Acting Chief Executive in March 2012 and continued in the role while the Triennial Review was underway, confirmed in March this year that he would not be seeking the role on a permanent basis and will be leaving Natural England on 18 July 2014 to take on a new executive role within Defra.  Natural England’s Executive Director, Guy Thompson will act as interim Chief Executive until James Cross takes up the permanent Chief Executive role on 1st September 2014.  So along with the recent restructuring how long before there is any robust science to underpin the dash to Dedicate Open Access across all publically owned NNRs?  We’ve already had reports of increased equine access and even 4 x 4’s attempting to cross ditches to access Hatfield Moors …. one might be forgiven for having concerns about the proportion of reduced budget has been spent on yet another restructure, redundancy packages, recruitment and the like?  Nature conservation a very poor second perhaps even third if you contrast against access and engagement?

BEVERLEY COMMONS

Readers may be aware that in the ERY applications are progressing to Deregister and Exchange Land at Beverley Westwood COM544.  It seems that the local authority have been writing to objectors ahead of the Public Inquiry seeking to get the withdrawl of those objections.  The campaign has hit the front page of the Hull Daily Mail.  There is a real fear that a precedent would be set by the approval of such an application.

The Open Spaces Society have added their objection to a growing call for more open and transparent conduct of business by the local authority.  For details of the full saga then the reader is signposted to the excellent Beverley Commons Blog which regales the debacle in full technicolour.  There are a number of related issues which add to the complexity including procedural issues around the application by developers to build luxury housing on the former Westwood Hospital.   The ERYC planning website refers to the development as application 3876, yet a letter received by the Forum yesterday refers to the same description as application number 0573!  Confusing, definitely!  Even more so when I tried to locate the Forum’s representation, as rare as a South Yorkshire Meles meles!  In fact it appears rarer …. so watch this space for updates.

It is a dilemma of modern living perhaps that finds what we previously took for granted as being protected sites are slowly being eroded and nibbled away at the edges to benefit business and not retained for the public benefit, the basis on which they were established.

& finally for tonight ….

For those readers who are not able to receive the Thorne Times as a newspaper, then read the June edition of Ramblings and nature notes of a bog-trotter here.

 

 

 

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Natural environment pressured from all points of the compass?

December 26, 2013

Sadly wildlife is continuously reported as being in decline.  This blog has posted items on the State of Nature, Nature 2013 et. al.  See also here All these reports chart serious declines in species and habitats and over many years.  How many SSSIs are in favourable consition, how many NNRs are the very best examples of their kind [habitat]?  Until issues like these have been seriously addressed and resolved then it would seem wholly reasonable that aspirations should not be unfairly raised nor projects initiated without appropriate account being taken of consequences, costs and accountability?

The Natural England website provide a glossy interpretation of FCS of SSSIs and this Spotlight on SSSIs Working towatds the biodiversity goals of 2020 Issue 1 October 2012 (10 pages, two of which are covers), then there’s Issue 2 June 2013 (11 pages, including introduction and cover) and the most recent Issue 13 December 2013 (12 pages, including introduction and cover), should all be accessible via the single link from earlier referred to title.  These reports provide ‘delightful’ colourful case studies painting a wonderful picture, but to ecologists and analysts they fall far short of the days of the statistical presentation and appear to suggest that marketing budgets are larger than those available for clearly reported science (that naively assumes that there is science undertaken)?

Strange then that Natural England (once considered to be ‘guardians of the natural environment’) seek to promote increased recreation through dedication of open access on all publically owned NNRs?

There is a Public Footpath (and it is publically owned) which takes the pedestrian onto Thorne Moors, which yields an annual income of £55,000 for a period of 35 years for Natural England so there’s certrainly scope for earning money from public land which developers take an interest in and one might ask, why not?  It would seem reasonable that such revenue should stay local and fund works or monitoring required to maintain the site and to ensure that there is no adverse impact consequential of new activities?  Not at all, we were informed that it goes into a [Head office] ‘central pot’.

110409 E-On breach TM Public footpath

Publically owned land, closed whilst utilised for private profit on the periphery of Thorne Moors SSSI.

Damien Carrington reported recently in the Guardian difficulties faced by trying to ensure existing PRoWs were well maintained.  Clearly there are some excellent observers out there and others who should perhaps have been more diligent in their research?

Would Natural England not be better looking to assist Local Authorities ensure that all existing Public Rights of Way were in good condition before increasing costs to the already moth-eaten public purse by creating more?

Here around the Humberhead Levels, across the Doncaster Borough, in tranquil hamlets like Fishlake and Sykehouse PRoWs are either woefully neglected or used as tracks for off-road users, or private commercial operations which then leave the green lanes unfit for ‘quiet pursuit’.

P1020020

An example of one of Doncaster Borough’s green lanes being used for purposes other than those they were designated for.

Promotion is all well and good, but open, transparent and adherence to legislative process is surely essential?  Well intentioned aspirations are all well and good but what of unintentional consequences and accountability?  An availability for redress if abuse or damage is evidenced?

How long before the scrutiny is transferred to the uplands, where substantive public funds are provided to private landowners?

To draw today’s post to a close on a positive note, as I started writing earlier I watched wistfully from the study window as around six hundred or so winter plovers wheeled around as they settled to feed in the short sward of autumn sown crops.  Black headed gulls harried golden plover, the less numerous lapwings milled about on the edges of the feasting flock.  I should perhaps have taken the telescope to make sure that there were no transatlantic cousins amongst the masses?


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Mark Avery

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I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

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