Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron’

Conservation campaigning: epetitions to consider?

June 3, 2015

In the aftermath of the recent General Election there appears to be a number of epetitions doing the rounds.   The promised free vote to repeal the ban on hunting with hounds galloped to the fore.  Interestingly Lord Gardiner, formerly of the Countryside Alliance, will represent Defra in the House of Lords.  As a former chair of a fox hunt Lord Gardiner might perhaps be keen to promote the repeal?  Mark Avery seems to think so as does Miles King .  The Prime Minister who has ridden to hounds in Oxfordshire and believes in the freedom to hunt has ensured that he has like minded in the Lords?  Interestingly the link to the article written for the Countryside Alliance magazine reports “page not found”.  We note that the CA consider that they are the “voice of the countryside”, is that the people, the wildlife or the entity?  We would be interested to understand how they validate such a claim, something akin perhaps to suggesting that a government represents a nation when in reality most (UK) parties manage to secure power on around 25% to perhaps 30% of votes?

There are two set up, one through 38 degrees the other through change.org either or both …. the message is the same and already the Change.org is already past 350,000, 38 degrees in excess of 100,000.  One might beforgiven for wondering why the Government have not yet re-instated the GOV.UK epetition option?  Avery has pledged to launch a second ‘Ban grouse driven shooting’ epetition because of the continuing persecution of birds of prey most notably Hen Harriers.  The Change.org epeitions mentioned, had it been on the GOV.UK epetition website option would have already passed the ‘magic figure’ which would require a response from Defra and a discussion in Parliament.  How would HM Government define ‘soon’?  It will soon be a month since the General Election, maybe they are anticipating a few environmentally orientated epetitions being set up, perhaps a few relating to the NHS as well?  It might be that electoral reform could feature?  ‘Soon’ could be construed as subjective and when applied to politics then even indeterminate?  Not exactly known, established or defined perhaps?

beeguy_m

Neonictonids are back on the agenda again with the agri-industry seeking to have the moretorium lifted.  38 degrees report that Our bees are in danger again. Toxic chemical companies are trying to get their banned pesticides back on UK fields. On the 20 May an application was submitted to the government asking them to lift the ban on bee-killing chemicals for some crops planted this autumn.  If you are still concerned about the threat to bees and then you might like to consider signing the epetition here?  Already 231,960 people have contacted Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs through this option in the hope that the government will listen.

Keep the ban on bee-killing pesticides is the most recent 38 degree campaign and it allows you to write to all three Defra Ministers:

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rory Stewart MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs MP George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment MP Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The campaign offers a form of words you can submit, but it also allows free text to be entered thereby making the message more personal. Imagine the impact on their inboxes …. ?

Greenblobpride

Advertisements

Wildlife at risk crossing roads & NFU apologise after Buglife expose misleading claims

July 10, 2014

Tonight as I was driving home along a nice stretch of road, which might better be described as ‘track’ and which runs parallel with the busy A18.  I slowed as I approached a moving ‘stick’ which was obviously a larva of some description.  Given that the vegetation on both sides of the road is rank grasses with vetches, bird’s foot trefoil, a few stands of St John’s Wort and even a bit of ragwort, so maybe an eggar of some description, but I certainly didn’t expect the beauty below.  One side of the road is a substantive drainage ditch (currently being extracted to irrigate agricultural crops) the other side is another drainage ditch but this one, the North Engine Drain is a SSSI and part of the series which make up the Hatfield Chase Ditches SSSI and which are sympathetically managed for their wildlife interest.  This particular one (NED) had been ‘managed’ earlier in the year (the first time for a few years) in such a manner that would have delivered both drainage and wildlife benefits.

 

140710 Emperor larva hrk 300

 

Emperor Moth Saturnia pavonia is generally a speacies of moorland and heaths, it is present on both Thorne and Hatfield Moors.  But in the vicinity of Hatfield Chase drainage ditches?  This handsome beast made it across the road to safety and survived risk of predation by corvids or other hungry creature foraging to feed a family.  As noted by a writer for the Guardian perhaps the bigger risk might be posed by vehicles?  I have been unable to definitively establish if the larva is poisonous or if it is just unpalatable because of the spines and crusty ‘warts’ and uses the colouration and pattern to fool potential diners.  Do let us know if you are aware of a paper or such which provides an answer.

Various authors list food sources of the Emperor as being mostly woody plants including heather, but also bramble, meadowsweet, hawthorn, blackthorn, alder buckthorn, sallows and birches.  Some of these species are present in the area but it would need to be both very athletic and agile.  Waring & Townsend (2003) Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain & Ireland also include fens, field margins, woodland rides, mature sand dunes and other open scrubby places.  UK Moths website describe the ‘warts’ as being yellow but Manley (2008) British Moths and Butterflies A Photographic Guide show an example similar to today’s find, with pink ‘warts’.

 

CAMPAIGN UPDATE:

Readers might recall that we have featured the issue of bees and neonictinoids on this blog.  Well, here we are again ….

The NFU have recently made erroneous claim attributing losses in crop yields in Sweden to insects.  But give Guy Smith, their Vice-President his due, he was quick to apologise about the tweets and various news reports.  It should be noted that these were made after Buglife, the invertebrate champion for ‘the small things that run the planet’. 

This embarrassing incident comes not long after Syngenta had to back down with their threats to sue the UK for upholding the EU ban on the use of neonictioids.  David Cameron and Owen Paterson were in favour of dropping the ban, but the critical mass of community campaigning through epetitions and the like caused a rethink …. for now.  The NFU and other representatives of agri-industrial interests have supported the Syngenta campaign, and this is the second time that their claims have been found to be erroneous (no doubt to the embarrassment of both the BBC and Farmers Guardian who reported the NFU claims made by Smith) and as Matt Shardlow says this latest revelation comes on top of two recent reviews of scientific evidence that have failed to find improvements in crop yields as a result of neonicotinoid use and the failure at a recent House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee of a Bayer spokesman to name a single published, peer reviewed scientific paper showing that neonicotinoids improved crop yields.

Who can we, the public and tax payer trust when it comes to honest and robust science?  It’s not unreasonable to expect corporations to promote vested interests but surely to exhibit credibility it must be accurate and honest?  Similarly, Government should be open and transparent and above all beyond reproach, demonstrating exemplary integrity in their conduct?  They are after all funded through public taxation even if their political party is in receipt of funds from third parties?

 

 

‘Moor’ B updates ….

July 2, 2014

BEES

Bees seem to keep hitting the headlines a lot recently, at the moment because there is a worry that David Cameron and Owen Paterson will overturn the EU ban on the use of neonictinoids.  The challenge has been led by Syngenta and a number of epetitions have been launched to send a message to politicians about the serious concerns posed by these toxic chemicals.

This morning hundreds of 38 Degrees members joined a host of campaign organisations to swarm on Downing Street to protect our bees.  David Cameron was meeting his cabinet to decide whether to allow banned bee killing pesticides to be used on fields across the UK.  Alongside 38 Degrees a huge range of campaign organisations came along, Buglife, Client Earth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network and the Soil Association all joined the campaign. Even Barry Gardiner MP (The Shadow Environment minister) join the ‘swarm’.  This is people power, this is critical mass collaborating to conserve and protect things people rather than corporations care about.

BADGERS

Of our beloved and beleaguered brock, with ‘apologies’ for the ’emotive’ langauge …. Miles King through his excellent blog “a new nature blog” has alerted us if we were not already aware that Farmers flout TB rules and campaign against loopholes which let TB spread

after he had analysed the recent (June 2014) Defra Bovine TB Information Note 02/14   Sadly, King draws a conclusion that the Tenant Farmers Association, chairman Stephen Wyrill considers trade to be more important than disease control, when it comes to tackling the disease in cattle.  Wyrill agreed that badgers should continue to be killed but that measures must respect the need to continue trading.

In a report by the Guardian today, new research published in the prestigious scientific journals Nature reports on National-scale research which heavily contradicts government’s badger policy and says that emphasis on cattle is only way to curb the bTB epidemic and that a mass cull of cattle not badgers is the only way to proceed.  The study was immediately rejected by farming minister George Eustice, who said a mass cull of cattle would kill the industry.  Surely, collectively we need solutions based on science not political point scoring, procrastination is costing lives of both badgers and cattle.

Tim M Badger 7465227996_e7b29e0ea9_h

 

Brook-Pollock, Roberts and Keeling present a dynamic stochastic spatial model for bovine TB in Great Britain.  The online paper provides an excellent selection of references and they are provided with their context.  The research concludes that “Very few of the control options tested have the potential to reverse the observed annual increase, with only intensive strategies such as whole-herd culling or additional national testing proving highly effective, whereas controls focused on a single transmission route are unlikely to be highly effective”.   As this research does not provide support for the continued cull, will the farming industry commission its own (if it has not already), will the Minister ‘carry on regardless’?

Both these ‘B’ issues bring to the fore the question of political impartiality and representativeness of the public who elected them (be it proactively or otherwise) and to who they are accountable?  However, when one examines how political parties are funded then the mire gets very mirky indeed?  Multinational corporations employ powerful and effective marketing companies who naturally advocate for vested interest and Westminster has some 1450 incumbents, some elected others not so accountable but all open to ‘discussion’ and why would they not be?  When ‘reason’ fails then there’s always the courts?

 

 

Politics: where does the natural environment figure in party manifestos?

May 28, 2014

Well the European and local elections are over and done with, but I imagine that we are still going to be faced with endless dissection and hypothesising as the 2015 General Election looms ever clower on the horizon.

I like many conservation commentators struggle to see any real green policies at the heart of what the media label as the main parties, that is to say the Conservative or Labour parties.  Realistically, are the Liberal Democrats and UKIP serious contenders to form a government in 2015?  If there is no overall winner, then who will hold the balance of power and have the opportunity to form a coalition?  What will be the turnout and will the ‘victor’ claim a mandate to govern even if the majority stayed at home (through apathy or ‘none of the above’)?

Never mind Tony Juniper’s “What has nature ever done for us?”, who is going to write “What has politics ever done for the environment?” I could think of a couple of potential writers at the moment who I would be interested to read their perspectives and any case studies they were able to offer as effective or lasting benefits.

So, the British system favours the current two party farce where people probably don’t actually vote for a party rather the party which they think least damaging or they dislike the least? What can we do about it? Lobby our MPs, lobby government to make voting compulsory and offer the option “none of the above”.   If that were to be introduced then I suspect it would be very telling?

An interesting petition has recently been launched, it requests the three party leaders (David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband) to RECALL: PUT POWER IN VOTERS HANDS, it’s brave MPs who offer up their own removal from post, but is it?  They want their peers to judge, not us …. so how does that regain our trust?

Here’s what one Conservative MP, Zac Goldsmith said:  “As an MP, I’ve seen how public pressure can force the government’s arm – and they’re particularly sensitive about public trust in MPs right now. A massive petition could give David Cameron and Nick Clegg no option but to go back to the drawing board – and produce recall with bite.”

The Telegraph runs with the story, and reports that a motion is to be tabled in the House of Commons next week but a letter signed by 10 MPs suggest that the draft falls far short of the publics expectation.  This letter is timed to co-incide with the fifth anniversary of the MPs expenses scandal, and of which we still hear rumblings as they continue to surface?

The 38 degree petition text is short and succinct: Dear David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.  It’s time for a real recall bill.  We call on you to support a recall bill that puts the power in voters hands, so that if, in between general elections, enough voters were dissatisfied enough with their MP to petition for a by-election, they could.  Read more here.

If we (conservation) could have a wish list for environmental policies, what would be on it?  What would be our priorities?

Whilst we mull over the construction of a wish list, or creating a series of questions to ask of politicians, readers might think about signing the Recall bill?  Look at what happened when we let the politicians regulate themselves after the expense scandal, surely we should learn from history – but do we?

 

 


BIRDING SITE GUIDE - Birding Site Guide

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Hatfield Moors Birding Blog

Bird and other wildlife information service for Hatfield Moors, South Yorkshire, UK © HMBSG 17/11/2010

Mark Avery

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?