Posts Tagged ‘Hen Harrier Day’

Not so glorious?

July 24, 2016

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Regular readers will be at least aware, if not familiar with the issues of raptor persecution in the uplands where driven grouse shooting occurs, and where equally worrying is the management regime practiced by those managing these uplands for the ‘sport’.

A series of short, very informative videos have been produced which are being released in the run up to the “Not so glorious” 12th August.  For anyone familiar with the ‘quaint, archaic and outdated practice’ that is the day on which thousands of Red Grouse are shot for sport, it is the first day in a season which extends to 10 December in England and Scotland, 30 November in Northern Ireland.

These excellent videos are worth a couple of minutes of anyone’s time, and for more information on the topic see Raptor Persecution UK where one of today’s post reports on an incident in North Yorkshire!  See also Standing up for Nature and for events relating to see also Hen Harrier Day – help make 2016 “the biggest yet”.

The first in the series “The Real Price of Grouse”

Released today, the second  “The Real Price of Grouse: Greenhouse Gases” outlines issues relating to the management practice of burning peat and the unseen cost to us all.

These videos presented by Chris Packham, provide a bite size chunk in each as to why ordinary members of the public, taxpayers, should seriously consider signing the epetition “Ban Driven Grouse Shooting” via the parliamentary web site  here

The epetition is approaching 64,000 signatures but we need more …. “At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament” the response made by Defra upon reaching 10,000 signatures might have been considered by some as patronising and selective in the statistics it offered, indeed there have been some suggesting that it might even have been written by advocates for the ‘sport’,

Remember also that there is an excellent opportunity on 9 & 10 September (in Sheffield) to hear a range of speakers at “Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands : Conservation, Land Management & Issues”.  For more information and a booking form see UKEconet.

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Henry’s ‘picnic’ in the Yorkshire Dales NP

June 22, 2016

We understand that the picnic/stroll/chat about the lack of Hen Harriers in England this year will be at Grimwith Reservoir car park at midday on Saturday (this Saturday, Saturday 25 June).

Henry the Hen Harrier

We are informed there is ample parking at the reservoir which is on the western side of OS Explorer map 298, Nidderdale, at 063641.

For more information see http://markavery.info/2016/06/22/25165/  or https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/hands-off-our-hen-harriers-picnic-at-grimwith-reservoir-yorkshire-dales-national-park/

Other events to pencil in to your diaries perhaps:

Hen Harrier Day 2016: Sunday 7 August.

Details to follow when available.  Alternatively keep an eye on http://henharrierday.org/

Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands: Conservation, Land Management & Issues  on Friday & Saturday 9 & 10 September in Sheffield, see http://www.ukeconet.org/raptors.html for more details.

Celebs & call to arms …. Birdfair 2015

August 23, 2015

Today is the final day of the annual Birdfair at Rutland Water and if Mark Avery’s blog is anything to go by Henry is having a great time meeting up with and getting lots of hugs from conservation ‘celebs’.  This year was the 27th and was significantly different to the first back in 1989.  The weather has thus far been kind, Friday saw a few spots but n’owt to deter folk and the marquees were within easy distance of each other, but over far larger acreage and a far cry from the very first BF which Bill Oddie described as a boy scout camp in his reminiscing on page 8 and 9 of this year’s programme.

This year Iolo Williams made his debut appearance, alongside a cast of other ‘celebrities’ from the environmental conservation sector.  His presentation, as expected was an excellent call to arms similar in some respects to his introduction at the State of Nature Report launch in 2013.  His charasmatic Welsh charm was wonderfully refreshing to hear and his honesty despite his frustration with statutory failure to address the loss and ongoing decline of habitats and species was evident, yet there was also a ‘can do will do’ proactive passion still there.  Red Kite is the Welsh national bird, but he admitted when asked by a member of the audience that his favourite was the Hen Harrier and one of his favourite memories was that of finding his first nest of the species.

Iolo Williams, a seriously inspirational speaker, a passionate voice for nature.

Iolo Williams, a seriously inspirational speaker, a passionate voice for nature.

The next ‘celeb’ up was Simon King, he is clearly passionate about educating the next generation and to this end has recently established a new charity, the Simon King Wildlife Project which is using a 10 acre meadow to restore wildlife and in so doing create inspiration for young people through education and engagement.  It has to be said that he did a wondeful job persuading people to experience the true aroma that is otter spraint.

The audience were encouraged to sniff Otter spraints as part of the 'educational engagement experience' offered.

The audience were encouraged to sniff Otter spraints as part of the ‘educational engagement experience’ offered.

Another speaker who has created a haven for wildlife and alongside a fantastic education facility at Aigas in the Highlands, Sir John Lister-Kaye also spoke of statutory procrastination and the need for nature in all our lives.

The irrespresible Bill Oddie 'Unplucked'

The irrespresible Bill Oddie ‘Unplucked’

The wonderfully provocative Mark Avery offered and advocated an ‘Inglorious’ challenge to the ‘grouse-industry’ much to the delight of the audience in another packed marquee and risked writers cramp by signing copies of his book Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands. 

150821 BF Mark Avery 2 hrk 662

Tucked away in a corner of a marquee was a ‘Lush’ species created specifically to raise the profile of the issue around illegal persection and loss in our uplands of the spectacular Hen Harrier.  It was great to be able to secure a HH bath bomb and to thank Mark Constantine in person for Lush’s support of the Hen Harrier campaign.

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It was great too that the guys from Birders Against Wildlife Crime had a presence.  Charlie, Phil & Lawrie have worked hard to raise the profile of the Hen Harrier issue and in collaboration with Mark Avery and Chris Packham have run a seriously successful Eyes in the Field Conference in March 2015 in Buxton, two fantastic Hen Harrier Days in the Peak District and an evening of talks ahead of this year’s HH Day.

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It is great that as well as the expected ornithological related stands and the astonishing array of travel offers, the latest optics to test out that other natural history disciplines were represented.  The British Arachnological Society had a presence and Dr Helen Smith was present with some of her fabulous study species Dolomedes plantarius or fen raft spiders. They really are a fabulous beast, well they are in the author’s opinion and it was a delight to be able to see some first hand.  “On the margins: The fen raft spiders of Redgrave and Lopham Fen” is superbly illustrated by Sheila Tilmouth and is an account of Smith’s studies and work on the species.  There is a dedicated FRS website Dolomedes.org.uk

Atropos, the journal for all butterfly, moth and dragonfly enthusiasts was present and subscribers were able to collect the latest edition of the journal ‘hot off the press’.

One pleasant surprise was the service received from the guys at the Leica stand.  Now my trusty 8×42 Trinovid’s are admittedly in their early 20’s but they are still in very good condition and optically as one would expect provide Leica excellent views but they were in need of a new rainguard so I enquired if they had any to purchase.  Half an hour or so later I came away with a new rainguard and they’d stripped the eyepieces down and performed a very professional clean of some two decades or so of accumulated ‘dust’.  All part of the Leica lifetime guarantee, now that is what I call service!  Thank you Leica team.

So all in all an excellent event and here’s hoping they reach their target for this year for ‘Protecting migratory birds in the Eastern Mediterranean’.

 

Inglorious 12th

August 12, 2015

Hen Harrier Day in the Goyt Valley, the Buxton weekend as well as the series of HHD gatherings are best read via Mark Avery’s Standing up for nature blog.

2015 HH Day logo

Today marks the beginning of the grouse season, once upon a time billed as the ‘glorious 12th’ but the ‘moor’ one delves into the practices associated with the ‘sport’ the ‘moor’ one sees it as a historical land use and no longer fit for public purpose.  Today also sees Avery’s epetition racing towards 13,000 signatures and in all likelihood passing the milestone by midnight.  If you’ve not already signed it, then read his book Inglorious – Conflict in the Uplands to see a reasoned case for banning driven grouse shooting, and in so doing better protecting the peat to act as a carbon sink, water purification service amongst a whole series of extremely important ecosystem services.  Even the Independent appear to question the economic argument to provide sport for around two thirds of an ‘Old Trafford crowd’.  If you’ve already signed it then present the case to your friends, family and network?

Chris Packham in the latest edition of BBC Wildlife, rightly offers comment on the poor performance of politicians in terms of the environment and conservation.  Since 1970 he reports the loss of some 44 million birds from our countryside (The State of the UK’s Birds 2012), then he reflects on the ‘mysterious disappearance’ this spring of five of the last breeding hen harriers in England. The piece is Packham at his best, passionate and erudite and he asks “What tragedy will wake us all from lethargy and shake us into action?” 

Over the next few years we may well see the continued ‘disposal’ of public assets to private profiteers, it wasn’t that long ago that the sell off of the forest estate was abandoned but if you follow that topic then one might be forgiven for wondering if it were not being undertaken via other avenues?  Natural England were looking at disposal of the series of National Nature Reserves (NNRs).  Will we see continued erosion of protection as planning becomes less regulated?  Building in floodplains?  With the abandoning of the requirement to register contaminated land might there be an increase in building on post industrial brownfield sites?

We were reminded recently, of our failure to take better account of the sheer power of nature in the form of increased flood events when Jeremy Purseglove, Dr Paul Buckland and Prof. Ian Rotherham graphically illustrated catastrophic failure to heed history and prepare for increased incidences consequential of changes in land management and other practices.

Published in 2008 & since when increased incidences have occured, some in our region catastrophic.

Published in 2008 & since when increased incidences have occured, some in our region catastrophic.

Perhaps when the misery is wrought people will realise the politicians, civil servants and Public Bodies have agendas other than the public benefit?

What can be done about the disregard of the natural environment, fundamental to all life?  What are the statutory agencies and authorities doing to ensure that the law is adhered to?  What are the large membership organisations doing?  What can we do as individuals do?

With champions leading the way then the critical mass of collaborative endeavour can effect change, if we can continue to build a momentum because tomorrow is too late to hope that we can catch a shuttle to another habitable planet ….

Hen Harrier Day 2015

August 7, 2015

Tomorrow evening there is an event in Buxton ahead of the second annual Hen Harrier Day.  Some 275 people will gather at the Palace Hotel in Buxton to hear a series of talks, and to meet Henry …. for more details see here.

2015 HH Day logo

Then on Sunday, when the weather threatens a repeat of the previous year, masses will gather in the Goyt Valley at Goytsclough Quarry in Derbyshire as well as other sites across the UK to show solidarity against the ongoing illegal persecution of one of the UKs favourite birds, the magnificent Hen Harrier.  Remember it came 9th in Britain’s National Bird poll organised by David Lindo the Urban Birder.  Ahead of the Puffin!

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Mark Avery’s epetition on the GOV.UK website has already passed the required 10,000 signatures to make it eligible to receive a response from Defra!  In fact it’s heading rapidly to the next 1000, the question is can we get it to the magic 100,000 level to secure a discussion in Parliament?  Interestingly the Government have reduced the time period they allow epetitions to run for, six months instead of twelve – wonder why that is?  Come on, can the critical mass of collaborative conservation get the Westminster village to discuss illegal persecution of one of the nation’s favourite birds?  If you’re not already one of the first 10k, then please think about signing the epetition.

If you need to understand the issues and have a case laid out then read “Inglorious – Conflict in the Uplands”.  

Alternative opinions are available, for example that expressed by a writer in the Daily Telegraph.   It is interesting to note that many conservationists have now submitted complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).  Freedom of the press ought to be something we are keen to support, but what when they fail to establish facts instead preferring to repeat unsubstantaited PR and spin?

Congratulations to all who have worked so hard to deliver HHD 2015, here’s to continued momentum ….

Have you seen Henry?

 

How many will we see in the Humberhead Levels this winter? Image: Tim Melling

How many will we see in the Humberhead Levels this winter?
Image: Tim Melling

‘Moor’ meetings & other conservation campaign updates

July 22, 2015

A reminder that the Hen Harrier Day 2015 is Sunday 9 August

2015 HH Day logo

the various venues are detailed here but the ‘local’ event is to be held in the PEAK DISTRICT with the location confirmed as Goytsclough Quarry

The Goyt Valley, Derbyshire OS Grid Reference SK 011 733

There’s also an event the evening before HHD in Buxton at the Palace Hotel, more information and how to book can be found via Standing up for nature website.

 IT’S BACK …. the long awaited return of the Government epetition website, so those readers who are supportive of the stance taken by proactive conservation campaigners in ‘challenging’ the established incalcitrant stance exhibited by Government are invited to consider adding their names to it again. 3,272 already, read some of the history behind ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’ creation and the renewed epetition campaign progress here.

[Ban Driven] Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which damages protected wildlife sites, increases water pollution, increases flood risk, increases greenhouse gas emissions and too often leads to the illegal killing of protected wildlife such as Hen Harriers.

RSPB , 7 March 2014 ‘…burning drainage and other forms of intensive land management in England’s iconic peat-covered hills are threatening to create a series of environmental catastrophes’

Inglorious conflict in the uplands (a book on why we should ban driven grouse shooting)  See also Standing up for nature where the reasoned rationale is presented.

Dr Dick Potts, scientist, 1998 ‘…a full recovery of Hen Harrier breeding numbers is prevented by illegal culling by some gamekeepers’

Chris Packham addressing Hen Harrier Day rally, August 2014 ‘We will win!’

It has a deadline of 21 January 2016, so clearly the new offer is a reduced one in line with the proposed 40% cuts across Government Departments.

It’s already raced to the first 1000, can collective connservationists and campaigners get it to that ‘target’ 100k by the reduced deadline?

At 10,000 signatures, government will respond to this petition (what are the odds on a recycle of their previous reply)

At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in ParliamentThe Government website ‘boasts’ …. Parliament hasn’t debated any petitions yet but we note that another epetion has been started which calls for a Parliamentary recall if 100k signatures are reached it’s what we pay for …. now there’s a challenge?  Which other sector gets a 10% payrise and an immediate recess?
It’s interesting that the Government still use the same old software which fails to identify accurately people’s MPs. But hey, do Government or civil servants do accuracy?  Perhaps I should start writing to their offering maybe then the error will be addressed, then again …. there’s bigger fish to fry or harrier haters to harry?

Remember also that we have “The Flood Untamed” with Jeremy Purseglove, Dr Paul Buckland and Prof. Ian D Rotherham at Crowle Community Hall (DN17 4LL) on Friday 31 July. 

2015 TtF front cover

To book a place please contact execsec@thmcf.org

‘Moor’ lepidoptera skipping about.

June 22, 2015

Despite the changeable weather over the last week or so, good numbers of the iconic Large Heath continue to be seen on Thorne Moors and a few have also been seen on Hatfield Moors by Robbie Millar a student from Plymouth University who is undertaking a study of the species after the re-introduction onto Hatfield Moors around 2005.  More on that in a future post.

Other species skipping about include

Ochlodes sylvanus: Large Skipper. Image: Martin Warne.

Ochlodes sylvanus: Large Skipper.
Image: Martin Warne.

Both species are perhaps best described as ‘restless’ and both adopt a similar posture when basking in the sun.  The Large Skipper (above) is easily identified as it is the only species which has mottled rather than clear golden wings.  The first males emerge mid May and the butterfly can still be around in August and occasionally lingering till September.  Cock’s-foot is its favoured food plant whilst on wet acid soil it will use Purple Moor-grass.

The mis-named ‘Small’ Skipper because four other species of British Skippers are smaller than this species are considered more secretive than the Large Skipper.  Their preferred food plant being Yorkshire-fog where they lay their eggs in a grass sheath.  Generally Small Skipper is found in taller lusher grassland than Essex Skipper and more open places than Large Skipper.  A flight period extending from June until the end of August.  Frowhawk suggests that the life expectancy of the imago is around twenty days for both species.

Thymelicus sylvestris: Small Skipper. Image: Martin Warne.

Thymelicus sylvestris: Small Skipper.
Image: Martin Warne.

Readers visiting Thorne or Hatfield Moors are asked to keep an eye on the ‘Small Skippers’ and look out for the Essex Skipper, which is very similar but check out the tips of the antennae: are they black or brown?  Black and a short sex brand running parallel with the forewing edge as opposed to being at an angle then you have the Essex, drop us a note or better still send an image to execsec@thmcf.org   

The Brimstone larva hang on well to the Alder Buckthorn leaves that they are busily munching their way through.  The small population subject of the ongoing study are observed at various times of the day, predominantly feeding from the upper surface of the leaf but can occasionally be located on the under surfaces.  Some are still quite small, around 7mm or so whilst others approaching twice that length.

Gonepteryx rhamni: Brimstone. Image: Helen Kirk

Gonepteryx rhamni: Brimstone.
Image: Helen Kirk

Other snippets

Natural England seem to be attracting the attention of a well known conservation campaigner lately.  It seems that nature’s erstwhile guardians are dithering over designations (again) …. this time the West Pennine Moors.  OK Avery is focused on addressing the ‘Hen Harrier’ issue and his ability to retain the plight on the public horizon is to be applauded, but there are wider ramifications for this ‘neglect’.  We sense the saga has a way to run yet and will watch with interest.

Of Hen Harriers, have you logged Sunday 9 August in your diaries?  See Hen Harrier Day for more details.

Defra …. King asks 14 weeks to a cull? Hedging and lanes, do they matter?

February 16, 2015

Countryside …. natural asset for quiet enjoyment, a playground or a resource for profit?

Once upon a time, seemingly in the midst of a previous era the village of Fishlake in the Doncaster district, was a quintessential rural idyll set amidst a canvas of pastoral tranquility.   As such it was a rare haven amidst the urban and industrialised areas of the Doncaster district.  It had much in common with its smaller neighbbouring hamlets at Braithwaite and Sykehouse.  The fields around Fishlake were in the main small and enclosed by wonderful species rich hedgerows with mature trees which offered nest holes for owls and other smaller tree nesting species.   This lowland landscape, part of the River Don flood plain was part of a working wetland and the farming practice that associated with pastoral farming.  It has in one lifetime changed dramatically, albeit acknowledging that ‘dramatic’ is a subjective choice of adjective?

A desirable place to live and one becoming increasingly popular, no surprise given the ease of which commuters can access motorway networks.   But it is one which sadly appears to be suffering neglect and abuse at the same time?  Sad to relate in other recent posts that there appears to be less than good hedgerow management practiced, now we learn of local people unnable to enjoy walks along countrylanes they have used all their lives because of what appears to be a ‘change of use’ which has, as yet remained unchallenged despite the fact that the lane is in fact designated as a “Restricted byway”.  Rural residents have little by way of services provided or leisure opportunities so it would seem only reasonable that they be allowed to continue to enjoy healthy and safe walks?  That wildlife have sanctuary or havens, what use of that?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In this particular case part of the issue appears to be the access points.  As with many of these delighful lanes they can all join up via a number of routes and these access options do not all have signs or notices posted to provide visitors with their status so perhaps by virtue there is an assumption of vehicular access rights?

This issue has been raised with the local authority at the beginning of February, a response is awaited.

Campaign corner & updates ….

Of public assets, can readers remember the furore over the proposed sale of the forestry estate?  It would seem that there is a view emerging that there is renewed activity around that ambition ….

An epetition has been launched which is calling for the end of Forest Privatisation by the back door.  The case is not local but it is another such example of the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ that our natural environment is being inflicted with?  There was a great fanfare in 2010 with the publication of the ‘Lawton Report’ or to give it its full title Making Space for Nature …. the subsequent silence is almost deafening?  Then we had the State of Nature Report and that appeared to be a rallying cry to arms, but …. where is the ‘conservation’ party now when we need an alternative to the meagre if any offerings of the ‘mainstream’ political parties?  Master blogger Mark Avery offers an interesting series of posts which offer readers insight into the Fineshade case.  One might wonder if the series will become as long running as that of the ‘Wuthering Moors’ case?

Of other campaigning blog posts, Miles King asks of us ‘We need to talk about Defra’   His insightful analysis offers good background to the complexities of the current predicament the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.  It is interesting to read also the amount of cuts that are scheduled for Defra, so why do their agencies not secure the support of campaigning conservationists, of naturalists and grassroots communities?  Why do they not work with grassroots activists to secure local support?  The mainstream NGOs who have been the recipients of their table crumbs (project funding) may well see more commercial opportunities should they be culled in 14 weeks?

King concludes that …. none of these things will happen while politicians continue to see nature as a side-issue. Only a change in the way society views nature will lead to a shift in the position of politicians and how they view nature. This is what we all need to work on.  Read the full text of his post We need to talk about Defra.

Greenblobpride

So, we all need to play a part and not let the apathy or attrition stand in our way?  Critical mass and collective collaborative campaigning is needed …. here’s to an inspirational networking session on 21 March, a legacy event subsequent to the momentum generated from Hen Harrier Day 2014.

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 There are events planned for 2015 to continue to raise the profile of illegal persecution of birds of prey, notably the magnificent ‘Skydancer’.  See some after thoughts on the Birders Against Wildlife Crime website posted shortly after the events.  Mark Avery too provided afterthoughts and further comments.

 

HEN HARRIER DAY

August 10, 2014

 

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For any reader unaware that today is Hen Harrier Day, then where have you been?

Despite the weather, a peaceful protest was scheduled to take place today in the Peak District, Lancashire and Northumberland.  It seems that many others took place in other parts of the country, so well done to all organisers and to those who showed their support by attending.

The Fairholmes Visitor Centre near the Derwent Dam was the meeting place for the Peak District photo call which took place at 10am this morning when around 250 people had signed up to take part.  See the image via Facebook and courtesy of Rare Bird Alert here.  This peaceful protest, against a sombre backdrop is intended to highlight to the press and to the moorland managers who might still persist in the illegal practice of raptor persecution.  Some great comments from the participants who braved the weather, well done to them all!

There are literally hundreds of comments to be read on Dr Mark Avery’s blog and many are testament to the pain of the industry targetted by the conservation consortium promoting awareness and pressure, but principly protection of raptors.  The term ‘grouse’ really does seem applicable, they have had years to get their house in order and still plead for time whilst taking the public funding for habitat management and failing to safeguard protected species.

The critical mass of NGOs are waking up and supporting the inspirational leadership demonstrated by Dr Mark Avery and Chris Packham, the number of signatures on Avery’s epetition is clearly growing and long may it do so with this last day or so seeing an increase of over 500.  In case any reader remains undecided then read the plethora of claim and counter claim, the media frenzy pushing out pleas by those whose failure to address the issue in any meaningful way is now being seen for what it is?  Then read the reasoned science and facts, then analse and then sign here?  Currently standing at 12,896 & increasing daily – next target 100,000 at which point it has to be discussed in the ‘House’, that is to say the one in the Westminster village.  Ban driven grouse shooting might receive a boost following the Thunderclap earlier and the press coverage of the HHD 2014, so here’s to the momentum continuing apace.

There may be inclement weather out there but clearly there is a climate change in terms of tolerance of illegal persecution, this is heartening and here’s hoping that politicians wake up to the issue of environmental issues ahead of the forthcoming 2015 General Election.  Even a Thunderclap has passed, social media at its best?  In terms of magnitude on the Richter scale of social media I wonder how it fared?

Birders Against Wildlife Crime is a new organisation which has been formed to raise the profile and highlight issues which need address. Their website is worth a look, so too the new one Raptors Alive accessed via Chris Packham has done much to raise the profile of wildlife crime, he raised the profile of the Malta Massacre on Migration issue, and an issue we featured on this blog a number of times.

Malta

From Moth-athons to ‘Frack-athons’ & the Peak District Hen Harrier Day ….

July 28, 2014

The Thorne Moors ‘Moth-athon’ species list referred to in last nights blog post is slowly creeping nearer the target of 200, currently it stands at 177 species with two ‘stations’ still to have their data incorporated.

Clouded Border, one of the 177 species recorded so far on the 'moth-athon'.  Image: Steve Hiner.

Clouded Border, one of the 177 species recorded so far on the ‘moth-athon’. Image: Steve Hiner.

 

The state of English HEN HARRIERS

Another piece of good news is that Mark Avery’s epetition Ban driven grouse shooting is nearing his interim target of 10,000 as the ‘inglorious 12th’ approaches. It currently stands at 9,451 – can readers help him get it to that 10,000 target by the Hen Harrier Day scheduled for 10 August in the Peak District?  Chris Packham is attending the Peak District event, let’s hope for plenty of coverage in the press.  We hope the media do a decent job of reporting the rationale behind the event instead of playing politics with serious conservation issues which have been neglected for far too long.  If the industry can’t sort it’s own act out then it’s time that the people had a say and the politicians listened?

We will not repeat the various ‘arguments’ that Mark Avery and Chris Packham have used to justify the call for a ban, the series are better read via Standing up for nature, they make interesting reading as do some of the comments anonymous correspondents have submitted.  I understand that there is to be a ‘Thunderclap’ and the target, which is already exceeded, is to be a million signatures, but you can still join in see here for more about ‘Thunderclaps’.

So, if you’ve not altready signed the epetition Ban driven grouse shooting then please consider doing so here.  Send an email to your address book network and draw the issue to their attention if you’ve not already done so, the more who join in the stormy issue and ‘Thunderclap’ ….

As if no breeding Hen Harriers in England isn’t depressing enough we have another threat facing our natural resources, and no surprise it’s those owned by you and I i.e. the public!

HYDRAULIC FRACKING: A contentious business?

I’m sure I’m not the only person reading this blog post who will have received an email alert/appeal very similar to that below:

Today, David Cameron opened up huge new areas of the country to fracking. More than half of Britain is now up for grabs in the prime minister’s latest frack-a-thon, including areas in 10 national parks. 

But already, almost 250,000 people have signed our petition calling for David Cameron to keep the UK frack free. Can you help us hit 300,000 and show prime minister the strength of opposition he and his government are up against?  Readers can access and sign the petition here.

Despite the government claims that national parks will only be targeted for drilling in “exceptional circumstances”, today’s announcement is littered with loopholes – meaning the tranquillity of the Peak District, the Lake District and Brecon Beacons could still be shattered as fracking companies move in to drill.

Not only has the fracking industry still to prove it can operate safely, the oil and gas produced by fracking would increase our carbon emissions at a time when we need to be massively reducing them.

But there’s still time to stop the industry before it begins.  Last week, Cameron’s fracking juggernaut was forced off the road in West Sussex when the county council unanimously turned down an application to drill in the ancient village of Wisborough Green, just outside the South Downs National Park.

Nearly 2,500 people voiced their concerns about huge lorries thundering through country lanes. And on the day the application to drill was heard by council leaders, an expert geologist described the fracking company’s plan as “incompetent and disingenuous.”

The brakes might have been put on fracking in Wisborough Green for the time being, but the prime minister’s obsession with fracking has blinded him to the scale of opposition up and down the country. Remind him what he’s up against – sign the petition now to urge David Cameron to ditch fracking.

The email appeal uses emotive terminology and we would seek to understand both sides of the argument, so naturally we would expect that case to be accurate evidence based science.  The Guardian calls for the protection of National Parks but also our houses.  They also reported that Fracking push gets the go ahead, but there appears an expectation that we will trust politicians to safeguard National Parks, sounds like the time that the public let *politicians sort out their expenses scandal or when they bailed out the banks at the public expense or sold off public assets at less than market value?  However, ever an agnostic ….

In a tightening of the guidance, the government will ask energy firms to submit an environmental statement that is “particularly comprehensive and detailed” if they want to frack on or near protected countryside, forcing them to demonstrate their understanding of local sensitivities. It will make clear that the applications “should be refused in these areas other than in exceptional circumstances and in the public interest”.

In addition, Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, is likely to make a final decision on more appeals related to protected areas over the next 12 months, instead of leaving it to the planning watchdog.  [Read the full Guardian article here.]  Another excellent piece was that written by John Vidal when he called for Frack free zones to protect water and wildlife, see here.

Government will ‘ask’, …. firms will produce an environmental statement to demonstrate – that’s really reassuring isn’t it?   We all appreciate that we need an energy mix, that we need to conserve energy (perhaps someone should remind Government of ‘conservation’) but I suppose that doesn’t make the energy companies money does it if we reduce our consumption?  We need safe and reliable energy, we need energy companies to be accountable …. (see above*).

A useful start in terms of understanding the issue of Hydraulic fracturing can be found here.

If you are minded to consider signing the Greenpeace petition then it can be found here.


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Hatfield Moors Birding Blog

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

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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