Posts Tagged ‘Angling Trust’

Rally for Nature to Westminster & the case for Fracking in Haxey?

December 8, 2014

Readers unable to visit Westminster tomorrow to connect with the various parties and politicians and ask them to “Rally for Nature” have hopefully dropped them a line asking them that they take a little time out from their hectic schedules to listen to erudite “Conservation” party people who have, the day before the end of the inglorious grouse shooting season felt compelled to travel to London to ask them to act in matters crucial for the wellbeing of the natural environment and the wildlife which is there (or should be) for all to enjoy.

Interestingly I received a request to validate my standing as a constituent and I was provided with a link, where I was told I could find out who my MP was.  It didn’t work!  I suspect that even if it had it would offer me a neighbouring MP (someone I generally get on with ok), oh the joys of Government funded software?  Anyway, let’s see what replies or excuses we get and let’s see what the media make of the “Rally” – good luck all and I wish I could be with you!

In the interim, another reminder that what looks like an excellent film is scheduled for local screening at Haxey Memorial Hall tomorrow evening at 7pm.  As with all propoganda pedalled by private companies whose principle motivation is profit I recommend that we should look behind the promises and seek out the facts, robust scientific evidence and then – ever an agnostic, analyse it and make up our own minds on the merits of any case.  Let’s hope that there are representatives of the fracking industry present to answer questions and provide assurances, after all both sides deserve the opportunity to present their case ….

Haxey Fracking Poster

I look for information through trusted sources and the October edition of British Wildlife magazine had an excellent item in its ‘Conservation News’ columns.

Apparently, according to recent research the UK holds enough shale gas to supply its entire gas demand for 470 years, promising to solve the country’s energy crisis and end its reliance on fossil-fuel imports from unstable markets. University of Manchester scientists say that they have now conducted one of the most thorough examinations of the likely environmental impacts of shale-gas exploitation in the’ UK in a bid to inform the debate surrounding fracking.  The paper Life cycle environmental impacts of UK shale gas by Laurence Stamford and Adisa Azapagic is available via Science Direct Applied Energy as a download.

As any reasonable person would expect, there  are pros and cons.  The review of recent research also identified an American study presented at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society in August.  The American study raised concerns over several ingredients of fracking fluids. The scientists say that, of nearly 200 commonly used compounds in fracking, very little is known about the potential health risks of about one-third, and eight are toxic to mammals. Among the compounds used are gelling agents to thicken the fluids, biocides to prevent microbes from growing, sand to prop open tiny cracks in rocks, and compounds to prevent pipe corrosion. The researchers state that there are a number of chemicals, such as corrosion inhibitors and biocides in particular, being used in reasonably high concentrations that potentially could have adverse effects, and some are of known toxicity to aquatic life. For about one-third of the approximately 190 compounds which the scientists identified as ingredients in various fracking formulas, very little information was found about toxicity and physical and chemical properties. 

Ready, steady ….

July saw the opening of the bidding process for companies seeking licences to explore for onshore oil and gas, with a very large proportion of England, and lesser areas of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, on offer. The primary intention of this licensing round is to enable companies to apply for licences to explore for shale-gas extraction. The Department of Energy and Climate Change will require detailed ‘Statements of Environmental Awareness’ to be submitted with licence applications covering National Parks, The Broads, World Heritage Sites and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ‘to demonstrate applicants’ understanding of the environmental sensitivities relevant to the area proposed’ – but there is no mention of SSSls or European Protected sites. This the government should urgently review, so say The Angling Trust, National Trust, RSPB, the Salmon and Trout Association, The Wildlife Trusts and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.  Earlier this year, this coalition published a major review of the risks that shale-gas extraction could pose in the UK, which concluded that fracking includes a range of significant risks to the natural environment and that government policy to address these risks was not fit for purpose.

Whoiswho

In the report, Are we fit to frack? the group put forward a number of other recommendations that dealt with how the fracking industry needs to be regulated.  These include, for example, the requirement that all applicants for fracking developments undertake a statutory environmental- impact assessment, and independent monitoring of key environmental risks such as methane leakage.  Not all of these recommendations have been addressed by the planning guidance issued on the launch of the bidding round.  Thus, the ‘conservation’ coalition [as oppossed to the political ConDem coalition] is calling again for all protected wildlife areas, nature reserves and national parks to be frack-free zones, for full environmental assessments to be carried out for each drilling proposal, and for the shale-gas industry to pay the costs of its regulation and any pollution clean-ups.  It is worth reading the coalition’s response to the government’s planning guidance.   Another report, providing the evidence base for the coalition’s standpoint Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in the UK: Examining the evidence for potential environmental impacts’ is another document worth examining.

Greenblobpride

A sceptic might be forgiven for enquiring if the failure to require full open transparent conduct of business be another item on the catalogue of concerns that we need to issue to anyone interested in our vote come the General Election in just 149 days time?

 

 

 

 

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‘Moor’ conservation campaigns, contentious bloggers & National Pollinators Strategy updates ….

June 28, 2014

A number of recent occurences appear to re-enforce the accepted view that the environment is low (if at all) on the everage voters agenda.

BLOGGERS RAISING POTENTIALLY CONTENTIOUS ISSUES:

Miles King reported in his excellent blog “a new nature blog” further explained as the “Musings, ramblings and probably a few rants on politics, nature + the environment” reported recently about the Kennel Club challenging the Borough of London’s safeguarding of the Burnham Beeches, this was followed up today with one about the Angling Trust calling for Beavers to be shot and Defra evicting Beaver from the Otter!  I could perhaps understand anglers having issues with otters (after all they eat fish) but with a vegetarian species, the beaver?  Part of their lobbying activity is clearly to influence Natural England.  I do like the aspiration to commission independent research, when has vested interest ever made available funds for independent let alone robust science?  It is time perhaps that when this kind of proposal is made that the funds are passed to and managed by a third party and the science undertaken through a tender process or a selection criteria in which the commissioners take no part.  The science is delivered to the terms of reference or specifications.  Open, transparent and honesty would help provide credibility to any case presented to vested interests and that would also include ‘developers’ (housing, industrial etc. which are required to comply with the planning system recently streamlined to make it easier to ‘develop’ sites with commercial value at the expense of quality natural environment, landscape or conservation significance.

We would not propose to repeat the the stories behind these headlines, but to suggest that you read the articles for yourselves (by visiting the site through the links above). They are well balanced (in my opinion) and they understand the issues as well as the current situation descibed. What King points out very well is the fact that nature is losing out to recreational interest with political clout.

This is evident through the two aforementioned cases, in addition Mark Avery’s taking up the issue of the plight of the Hen Harrier in England, Chris Packham heading up the exposure of the Malta Massacre on Migration, and there are others but people risk their livelihoods if they take a stance.  I have to confess that I am neither an avid reader of the Times or someone especially interested in sport, but Simon Barnes has, apparently left the Times recently.  There have been suggestions that this may have been because of some sympathies with conservationists and has written articles which could be described as questioning?  Now, perhaps it’s a pure co-incidence but when I tried to open the link through to the Times article by Barnes Some of our grouses are beginning to be heard, it has a subscription offer ‘on top / blocking’ it.  Is it worth subscribing and then not continuing the payment explaining that as they sacked him, there’s no point continuing a subscription?  The Times became part of the News International [Corp] empire in 1981.

 

Setting aside politics and the media and returning to the NATURE NOTES notion and occasional purpose of this blog ….

The bird feeders are well and truly being used by the array of visiting families.  The male Great Spotted Woodpecker has started to appear again along with one of his offspring.  Blue, great and coal tits all voraciously attack the home made fat blocks, they seem to prefer these to bought ones which is hardly surprising as they have meal worms and all sorts of ‘luxury’ ingredients in as oppossed to commercial varieties.  Dunnocks skulk and collect the debris from the floor.  Tree and just one pair of house sparrows visit regularly.   Blackirds, robins, greenfinches, chaffinches and goldfinches too are plentiful.  One interesting observation lately has been the begging behaviour of the various finch species.  The chaffinch young move their head and shoulders from side to side in the hope that their parents will feed them, the goldfinch young by comparison stand still and flutter their wings, held at 90 degrees fast to beg their food!

A totally unexpected visitor and I think it’s a first for the ‘garden list’ was a Stock Dove a couple of days ago!  We get far too many woodpigeons, collared doves are plentiful but turtle or stock doves are rarities.  The corvids are well enough represented as well with jackdaws breeding in an owl box!  Magpies too have developed the art of raiding the fat blocks.  Our third black and white species the Pied Wagtail is a fairly regular visitor at the moment so perhaps they have bred nearby as well.

 

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Stock Dove

Image: Chris Cant.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

 

POLLINATORS STRATEGY UPDATE

Defra’s National Pollinator Strategy is progressing through the system, the parliamentary website reports:

The Committee intends to examine Defra’s ‘National Pollinator Strategy’ in the light of the Committee’s April 2013 report on Pollinators and Pesticides.

The Committee will look at the proposed relative roles of particular actors (Government, gardeners, industry, farmers, etc); whether the anticipated research is in the right areas, timely and sufficiently independent; the adequacy of the ‘priority actions’ identified; and the effectiveness of the envisaged Integrated Pest Management model.

So, how long will the industrial lobbyists be allowed to cause delays and put at jepordy the future of bumblebees, and other invertebrates essential to pollination because various industries are reliant upon commercial bumblebee breeding programmes?

The Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius

Red-tailed bumblebee.  Image: Keith Heywood.

But, the WI and others including FOE and Buglife are on the case and advocating for a precautionary approach that the EU pesticide ban remain until robust scientific research is able to provide suffient evidence upon which to review the situation.   The Bumblebee Conservation Trust was the tangible outcome of Dave Goulson after he moved to Stirling in 2006, the story behind the creation of the BBCT can be found in “A Sting in the Tale” (2013) and reviewed in a guest blog by Keith Heywood.  Its evolution reminded me a little of how the Eden Project developed.  From small acorns and conscientous critical mass ….

 

RECALL [MPs] DRAFT BILL

You might recall that the politicians engaged in a little bit of ‘kidology’ recently when the Queen’s speech announced that MPs could be recalled and that a draft bill was being prepared?  Then we all read the small print and it began to resemble the expense saga and how they were left to sort that out for themselves!  So, any other sceptics or should I say realists amongst readers might be interested in passing across your thoughts about the matter to 38 degrees?  On a positive note, might it be an indication that MPS might have been listening a little to voters and realised that they ought to make a start?


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Hatfield Moors Birding Blog

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Mark Avery

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a new nature blog

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.

UK and Ireland Natural History Bloggers

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