Posts Tagged ‘Open Access’

Open Access : a free for all? Are NNRs at risk of becoming country parks?

February 27, 2015

Is Open Access * on National Nature Reserves creating a new type of country park?  As Local Authorities are increasingly introducing bans on dogs in public places because of risks associated with excrement and young children, are dog owners being driven to use NNRs and Natura 2000 sites as canine toilets?

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It might not be so bad if they were all responsible owners (hats off to the gentleman above) and took the deposits home with them or kept their animals on the lead?  The Countryside Code  and masses of other literature encourages responsibility but ….

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Further along the path were redshank, meadow pipits and skylarks all desperately feeding in order to build up reserves to see them through winter to breed and delight us all again in spring.

NNRs are supposedly the best examples of habitat types, to quote JNCC

National Nature Reserves (NNRs)

NNRs contain examples of some of the most important natural and semi-natural terrestrial and coastal ecosystems in Great Britain. They are managed to conserve their habitats or to provide special opportunities for scientific study of the habitats communities and species represented within them. In addition they may be managed to provide public recreation that is compatible with their natural heritage interests.

NNRs are declared by the statutory country conservation agencies under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In Northern Ireland, Nature Reserves are designated under the Amenity Lands Act (Northern Ireland) 1965. In Scotland, whilst SNH remains the statutory designating authority, decisions to declare new NNR are shared with a Partnership Group of interested organisations.

So why risk damage by opening the flood gates and encouraging conversion to country theme parks?  There are public footpaths a plenty around the country, but again they also require dog owners to behave responsibly and perhaps they have been utilised by other users and dangerous?

Dogs: ‘man’s best friend’ are our companions but they can wreak havoc when out of control.  A recent incident on a ‘nearby’ NNR in Lincolnshire has seen a family devastated after dogs attacked their flock of sheep.  The Louth Leader reports in lurid detail the shocking outcome of a dog attack.

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On Hatfield Moors, dead adders (above) have been found reputedly ‘sorted’ because they bite dogs.

Walkers have been attacked and bitten on Hatfield Moors but the land managers, Natural England dismissed the incident as an accident.  Bad enough it was an adult, but children are smaller and are they able to withstand canine enthusiasm or attack when animals are off the lead?  Mumsnet clearly have plenty to say on the issue.  This incident, as well as resulting in physical injury, caused distress and ultimately the individual has now we understand stopped visiting Hatfield Moors NNR.

We’d like to think that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible.  It may be that despite miles of public footpaths to walk, they too fear for their safety as other countryside users disregard access permissions and create dangerous circumstances?  Incidentally neither of the recent issues relating to hedgerow management and green lanes have received full responses from the Public Bodies contacted.

Please, everyone …. be considerate of other users of the countryside, treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself?  The natural environment is a resource for us all to enjoy but more importantly it is a refugia for ever diminishing wildlife?  How would we all feel if a pack of dogs visited our gardens and wreaked havoc  with our garden pond or bird tables and feeders killing the goldfinch and other much loved visitors?  This is effectively what happened to the Lincolnshire family mentioned above?

* Another ‘page’ being rebuilt by GOV.UK

 

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‘Moor’ ramblings ….

April 11, 2014

With the arrival of the new recording season, I thought we should show some of the images and records people have been kind enough to share with us.

The stuning image below, shows a frequent visitor to our gardens and a character with a fondness for chimneys and who given half a chance will make their nest aloft!

Jackdaw.  Image : Ted Sabin.

Jackdaw. Image : Ted Sabin.

 

The superb close up of a Purple Thorn, shows a male specimen who before he was distracted to the light trap would have been seeking a female.

Male Purple Thorn.  Image: Ted Sabin.

Male Purple Thorn. Image: Ted Sabin.

The Purple Thorn, or Selinia tetralunaria used to have the log number of 1919 and easy enough to remember and use when logging trap catches.  Then …. something akin to decimalisation occurred and it’s now 70.239!  Now for some of us of a certain age / generation I reckon this new system is going to take some getting used to.  That’s not to say that the review and revision wasn’t a good idea nor that it was needed.  Agassiz et. al. are to be congratulated on the achievement of delivering the Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles in 2013 and published by the Royal Entomological Society.

 

Regular readers will be aware that Thorne & Hatfield Moors have been Dedicated as Open Access by Natural England last year.  We have heard questions raised by people wondering about implementation of this arrangement and whether there would be removal of fences, barbed wire and gates thereby delivering real Open Access …. clearly someone was in a hurry for an answer and decided to do the work themselves?

Rural vandalism or new Open Access arrangements on NNR implemented?

Rural vandalism or new Open Access arrangements on NNR implemented?

If anyone witnesses vandalism of this nature, then please report it to the Police and Natural England.

Conservation, collaboration and campaign(er)s

January 12, 2014

What a start to 2014, we had the Minister for the Environment Owen Paterson suggests that ancient woodlands can be felled if each tree lost were to be replaced with a 100 new ones!  That was on the back of a year which saw volumes of reports published evidencing losses of habitats and species.  The Ecologist, offers a contra perspective here.

Sadly now we find ourselves a little adrift of our usual ‘natural area’ territory and we look at the tradition of “Pasture Masters” across in Beverley Westwood.  A comment on the The Hull Dail Mail website describes the election process as it being “one of the country’s oldest and quirkiest elections”.  Long may such traditions not simply survive, but flourish.

But, sadly we learn that this ancient common, one well known to many of us if only because we can drive through it on the way to the East Coast is under threat.  But, thankfully such places have their champions and quite rightly so, another well qualified to fight nature’s corner and that of the community can be found through authorship of the 38 degree petion here.

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A resident of Westwood Common whose wellbeing is at risk if developers are allowed to damage ancient rights of common?

 

It might be said that it is not disastrously significant in terms of nature conservation or environmental vandalism, BUT it sets a precedent and it continues that current trend of death by a thousand cuts.  When the haemorrhaging stops and the life blood is lost, we mourn the loss of things we had previously believed would always be.

Lest we forget the other Beverley Commons which might be considered as more diverse in their natural history interest.  Swinemoor for example.  But that too is under threat and have attracted controversy, see here.

The third is Figham Common and collectively these significant parcels of land offer wildlife and the commoners as well as the public an amazing resourse.  We can only wonder at what wildlife frequented these sites back in 1255, the date which Figham Common was first recorded.  A brief resume of the three Beverley Commons can be found here.

So, please readers consider adding your voice to the petition SAVE OUR WESTWOOD feel free to leave comments, please forward the details to your network.  Together community collaboration can make a difference. 

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Black Mill, Beverley Westwood by Paul Glazzard via Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

Just in case we have any new readers who have not already signed the Forum’s petition to STOP & RETHINK NNRs as Open Access areas, please consider that one too, again PLEASE forward on to your networks.

I am reminded of some inspirational prose, the first verse of which was adopted and used on the calling card of the late Wm Bunting of Thorne.  In the 17 and 1800’s Commons were enclosed for private benefit and it would have been written as a ‘call to arms’ ….

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from off the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.

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’.

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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’.

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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?

National NATURE Reserves set to become the new ‘country parks’?

November 16, 2013

Recently we have had a few more signatures on our 38 degree petition STOP & RETHINK National Nature Reserves as Open Access areas.

Why I wonder?  I’d hope that it’s consequential of common sense prevailing as well as a mixture of astonishment and disbelief or perhaps even anger and naive expectation that a Government agency would act in an open and transparent manner by demonstrating best practice as well as legislative compliance.  Sadly, neither expectation has been in evidence, in fact quite the reverse.

Have any of you out there heard about Nature Conservation Assessments?  Setting aside the lack of science or any evidence, nor involvement with a wider expertise beyond internal staff, they appear to be a new approach to assessing ‘Likely Significant Effect’ on the interest features of a Natura 2000 site.  At the risk of being accused of scepticism they seem instead to be a way to side step Habitats Directive legislative compliance (Article 6(3)).  We are told that these documents exist for all the 83 NNRs proposed for Dedication as Open Access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. 

See JNCC website on the Habitats Directive.  The guidance is extensive on plans and projects which might impact on Natura 2000 sites.  See particularly Assessment of plans and projects significantly affecting Natura 2000 sites.  Methodological guidance on the provisions of Article 6(3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC.  Perhaps from an NE perspective, it is easier to re-write the rules and who could blame them?

So, what might that mean for the sensitive habitats and species out there?  What might it mean for the public who visit for the quite enjoyment of the tranquil landscape or to experience the magic of wilderness and wildlife?

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Car park requirement, litter bins (mmh, they are either full to overflowing or not used at all in my experience), lots of colourful expensive ‘interpretation’ boards (target practice for air gun or rifle enthusiasts) and not forgetting toilets ….  I do so wish they’d sort the variation for dogs as it’s been unpleasant to witness people in wheelchairs suffering the aftermath and deposits of thoughtless pets, or rather the failure of their owners to act responsibly.

The funding for all these?  We are informed that it will come from ‘core’, so despite the fact that budgets are being cut there is the ‘suggestion’ that additional expenditure can be accommodated?  Not possible, so then what is dropped or neglected?  Given that Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI for example, have yet to achieve ‘favourable condition status’ (FCS) so if funds are diverted from nature conservation management then how will that situation be addressed?  Thereafter if they fail to achieve FCS are they de-notified and disposed of?

Alarmist, not at all …. how many of you remember the 1997 endeavour by English Nature to denotify large areas of Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI when the peat extractors Fison’s funded the hydrological reports upon which the EN case was based?  Interestingly there is no corporate sponsor of the ‘science’ this time, perhaps that’s why there is none?  Perhaps the local authorities who might benefit as they impose more restrictions on dogs in public places are keen to see NNRs become ‘alternative country parks’?

There is the issue of health and safety, Thorne Moors SSSI particularly have very deep and dangerous drains and canals.  Parts of Crowle Moors SSSI too are equally as inviting but just as dangerous.  Worse though are the uncontrolled dogs.  Already there have been two attacks on Hatfield Moors and one was sufficiently serious to be reported to the police.

Dog walker

Please note that the walker and the dog pictured above, are not as far as we are aware the guilty parties of the attack mentioned above.

A Senior Director has tried to suggest that there will be little difference in reality, so why on earth spend funds on the exercise?

As the sites are rewetted through the implementation of the Water Level Management Plan required to assist achieving FSC, the Special Protection Area (SPA) interest feature the enigmatic and crepuscular nightjar will be squeezed to the drier areas.

Nightjar (PP)

What of the woodlark, a Schedule 1 breeding bird?  They too have already been disturbed and displaced by NE access projects in previous seasons.  But, as ‘judge and jury’ NE refused to ‘hear’ the complaint.  These are also the areas which are favoured for picnics and needed for car parks and cafes, toilets etc.

The Forum do not oppose open access in principle, but this plan / project promoted by Natural England has been a communication failure from start to the present time.  The Senior Director was insistent that the Forum have been consulted, rather the reality was that we had been notified and in my South Yorkshire dictionary there is a substantive difference in meaning between the two words!  There has been no ‘science’ to support the proposal this time, but if you examine the proportion of access vs science based staff in NE that is perhaps not surprising and there is negligible commissioned science by the Government agency here in the Humberhead Levels.

So, thank you to those of you who have signed the 38 degree petition, if you are new to the Forum’s blog and haven’t signed the petition then please consider doing so.  Better still, write to your MP, or the Minister (Owen Paterson) or the Chairman of the Board of NE about the issue.  If you would like to know more then please contact us via execsec@thmcf.org

Are you actively participating or simply overwhelmed by the rise of epetitions requests?

October 18, 2013

The number of on-line petition sites appears to be growing.  Why is that?  Is it because our elected representatives take little notice of us in between elections, local or national?  Is it that we are registering disquiet at the manner in which some matters are dealt with or business conducted?

Campaigns are also run through blog sites and the plethora of social media options such as Facebook and Twitter.  Communication is easy today with the improved access to the internet, but I fear that it has not kept pace with the destruction and decline of habitats and species.

If I think back to the early days of epetitions and their topics, they illustrated an amazing diversity of subject matter from the attempt to sell off public forests, badgers & TB to the NHS and education.  Eventually the Government too joined in with their own version, I have to say I like the one Remove the subsidy  from the House of Commons Catering and Bars, an instant saving to the treasury of £5.8m, a no brainer surely in these times of austerity?  Yet it has only received 12,877 signatures so far and it closes in less than a week!  So, seemingly we happy to subsidise politicians eating and drinking habits?

Licencing of upland grouse moors and gamekeepers is another which has only received low volume sign ups, 6,566 thus far but you have until February next year to add your support.  There are calls for stopping GM crops being grown in the UK, the subject matter is fascinating and can be searched by Government department, currently there are some 384 epetions open (855 closed and 317 rejected) relating to Defra alone.  I wonder how many of these have gone on to be discussed in ‘The House’?  The badger cull received in excess of 300,000 signatures and the campaign continues …. Look at the cartoon by Ralph Underhill on Mark Avery’s blog post of 12 October, it just sums the badger issue and the politics of it all to a tee!

Note that epetitions.direct.gov.uk alerts prospective campaigners to the fact that epetitions “will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold”.  There is a timeframe in which any campaign has to achieve the target, but what happens in the BBC (above) will very much depend on the knowledge, expertise, qualifications of its members?  The current Chair is Natasha Engel .  The eight members comprise 4 Conservatives, 3 Labour and 1 Liberal Democrat.  I must establish what criteria they have to achieve for discussion to take place in parliament proper, that is to say a full House of Commons or Lords?  In the interim if anyone knows, drop me a line ….

I seem to be rambling, perhaps I should remind myself why I decided to post a piece on ‘campaigning’ …. I’d received a request to sign the Avaaz petition Free the Arctic 30.  The thought process then drifted as we are oft inclined!  So ….

May I also remind readers who have not already done so that the Forum has a petition currently running on the 38 Degree website: Stop & Rethink National Nature Reserves as Open Access areas.  Please think about signing it and please ask your friends, family, network colleagues to consider doing so.  We’re not averse to appropriate access, irresponsible risks from inappropriate access brings potential Likely Significant Effect on the interest features of the 87 Natura 2000 sites.  Habitats Directive compliance I hear you ask?   It seems that Natural England’s Senior Director does not consider it necessary to undertake one …. one might be forgiven for thinking that there is a potential conflict of interest by the judge & jury here, surely not?

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Both 38 Degrees and Avaaz offer would be campaigners the opportunity to create petitions, ok you have to be reasonably IT literate but the guys at 38 Degrees were certainly helpful to us (I’m sure the same would apply to Avaaz).  A quick search reveals others Change.org and Care2petition along with many more, choice – there’s certainly plenty out there available with a couple of clicks!  Then the work continues and all you have to do is use the result through follow up media &c. ….

HELP: Please sign our on line petition STOP & RETHINK

August 14, 2013

Readers may recall our post about blogging being good for conservation ?  Well, driven by frustration the Executive have now used another on-line campaign tool in an attempt to draw to the public’s attention some rather ‘quiet’ activity being undertaken by Natural England.

In 2011, senior directors within Natural England proposed Open Access under the Countryside Rights of Way Act across all their freehold National Nature Reserves.  Remember that these sites are ours, i.e. public.  Remember too the local campaigns ‘fought’ to secure the sites for posterity, particularly those here at Thorne and Hatfield Moors, were driven by grassroots activists, see the recent page created to provide a campaign chronology.   So, National NATURE Reserves, surely the clue is in the name?

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The sign above accurately reflects, in the opinion of the author of this post, what ought to be the ethos of NNR raison d’etre.

 

The Forum’s Executive have sought answers to many points but those below have yet to receive responses in sufficient detail.

  • Has Natural England secured sufficient funds in order to finance in perpetuity the monitoring, and management of of Natura 2000 sites to ensure that any conditions and restrictions necessary to protect the special interest as a result of Dedication for Open Access under the CROW Act can be maintained in perpetuity?
  • Can Natural England confirm that where it cannot be determined at the outset, that a Project to Dedicate Open Access on a National Nature Reserve which is a  Natura 2000 site, will not have the potential to have a likely significant effect on the special interests for which the site is designated, then a full Appropriate Assessment as required by the EU Habitats Directive/Habitats Regulations 2010 (as amended) and involving the public where appropriate will be conducted to inform the acceptability of conditions or other restrictions necessary to ensure there is no harm to the special interest of the Natura 2000 sites before any dedication takes place?
  • Can Natural England confirm that as Dedication of Open Access under the CROW Act cannot be carried out conditionally that full funding and resources are in place and legally binding to ensure that the monitoring, management and controls necessary to protect the special interest of National Nature Reserves which are Natura 2000 sites in perpetuity, must be guaranteed in perpetuity at the moment of dedication, otherwise the Dedication cannot proceed?

Then there is the matter of open and transparent public consultation, that is to say demonstrable implementation of a democratic process.  Senior Directors offered to arrange a closed meeting in June but since we proposed including the public there has been prevarication and laterly a deafening silence.

There also appears to be an avoidance to ensure compliance with the Habitats Directive.  We are not yet convinced that the Chinese Walls that NE insist will ensure there will be no Conflict of Interest between regulatory compliance and access staff interests are of the appropriate material.  The Board paper NEB PU28 03, para 3.7 suggests that whole project costs will be in the region of £40,000 but correspondence received has already indicated an annual figure of around £73,584 not inclusive of the £40,000 which is available for ‘establishment’ of Open Access is necessary.

Many NNRs are in unfavourable condition status and some in unfavourable declining, including parts of Thorne and Hatfield Moors SSSI, so why therefore when access already exists on these sites would anyone divert money from ensuring that we comply with achieving favourable conservation status to encouraging inappropriate access across dangerously deep peat bogs awaiting those unfamiliar with the complex nature of the sites?

Why place at risk the SPA interest of the site?  See the post “Skylarks under foot as gates opened?”  Factor in that there has already been one dog attack on a member of the public on Hatfield Moors.  This was reported to the police because previous approaches to Natural England were dismissed as being trivial.

So, please consider signing the Forum’s petition on the 38 degrees Campaigns By You website.  Please help us to spread the word, help us to ensure that Thorne and Hatfield Moors are safeguarded for future generations.

Perhaps finally (for this post), to add that we are not oppossed to appropriate access on NNRs, de facto open access already exists here at Thorne and Hatfield Moors SSSI.  We simply seek proper process, open and transparent consultation based on science and underpinned by the acceptance that these sites are the gems in the nations natural crown jewels.  We simply ask STOP & RETHINK.

Skylarks underfoot as ‘gates are opened’?

July 12, 2013

Sky Lark 007

 

The delightful image above sent by Bryan Wainwright shows a fledgling Skylark.  Sharp eyed Bryan in his own words “shood the bird to safety” as it froze and remained motionless in the hope of danger passing it by by.  Nearby I watched as a Redshank adopted distraction tactics to try to ensure the safety of its offspring.  These strategies offer an insight into the risks posed to young birds if Natural England proceed with their proposal and open the gates on their 87 National Nature Reserves across the country to Open Access.

 

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The observations reminded me of an incident a couple of years back when management work (in the bird breeding season) was being undertaken to facilitate ‘disabled access’ on Hatfield Moors.  A pair of woodlark, a Schedule 1 (WCA 1981) species were on territory but as judge and jury of impact of their work and a limited window of availability of men with machines Natural England decided to displace the birds and disrupt their breeding.

There are many papers offering good case studies where increased access and dog walkers have had negative impact upon ground nesting birds particularly.

Recreational use of forests and disturbance of wildlife is a useful literature review detailing case studies undertaken in forests since 1990.  Two species subject to studies, nightjar and woodlark are key species on Thorne and Hatfield Moors SSSI and two species likely to be impacted upon by increased recreational use being encouraged by Natural England.

What is the impact of public access on the breeding success of ground nesting and cliffnesting birds? Is a Systematic Review and another resource worthy of a read. It synthesises the findings of a number of studies of disturbance to nightjar (albeit on southern heathlands) and it does not offer much hope for us here when the gates are opened.

A Review of Disturbance Distances in Selected Bird Species is a Scottish Natural Heritage commissioned report undertaken in 2007 and it too makes depressing reading in terms of likely significant effect on the productivity of breeding nightjar the SPA interest of Thorne and Hatfield Moors.

Already there has been one dog attack and a member of the public bitten recently.   The victim then subsequently reported the incident to the police.  That bite was at a level of a childs face but it was dismissed as a one off and no further action taken.

A case might be made, certainly here on Thorne and Hatfield Moors that there already exists de facto open access.  What’s wrong with that?  Why mend something which isn’t broken, why spend diminishing budgets on access maintenance rather than ensuring that the sites achieve ‘favourable condition status’ as ‘natural jewels in the public crown’, as best examples of National NATURE Reserves, and European Natura 2000 sites?  They are not countryparks or themeparks they are National NATURE Reserves.

Does this matter after all nature is a resource, The State of Nature, something that the ‘Welsh bard’ Iolo Williams made an empassioned plea to us all to do something about before it is too late for our grandchildren to inherit.   See also the early warning offered here.  In a single lifetime the wilderness that was Thorne Moors is now surrounded on all points of the compass with industrial clutter which can be seen and heard if you stand on the viewing platform in the middle of the moor.  No longer can a visitor easily hear the drumming of the snipe or the churring of the enigmatic nightjar they are all too frequently drowned out by cheap holiday flights overhead or wind blown noise pollution from the neighbouring industry or road systems.

In principle the proposal seems not an unreasonable one but there has, in the view of the Executive been a lack of open and transparent public involvement.  The consultation, if the exercise could be described that, has been conducted outwith the public gaze and with organisations whose focus appears other than nature conservation.  There has not been, to our knowledge been any open meeting to which the public have been invited.

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Must what is left of England’s largest lowland raised mire be ‘moor’ eroded and lost to local people for the benefit of short term gesture politics?  What would the late Wm Bunting have made of this?  He would certainly have challenged the notion that NE as judge and jury could not avoid legislative compliance.  Bunting would certainly challenged the fact that NE be allowed to assess the project which they themselves are primary proposers.  One might be forgiven for drawing the analogy with MPs designing their own expense system or failed bankers expectation that the public purse will fund bail outs?

A Senior Director of NE has offered to attend a meeting but that was a couple of weeks ago and we are still awaiting a response in terms of date ahead of any definitive announcement in respect of dedication.

Watch this space and we’ll keep you updated.  If you’d like to know more then please contact us via execsec@thmcf.org


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Hatfield Moors Birding Blog

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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.

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