Many blog posts have been written by far more erudite scribes than I about the role and remit of the government department responsible for nature conservation. Defra are also responsible for agriculture. Some might see those two aspects as incompatible, others would seek the ideal where they work together for the best interests of the environment and the public interest.
Other examples of Defra failing to heed the public mood were the ‘forest sell off’ and particularly the debacle that was and continues to be the badger cull. The science has been challenged, the significant costs are met from the public purse (estimated to be in the region of £6,775 per animal, with the BBC reporting in September 2015 that the cost had reached £16m) and yet appear to have made little impact? Irrespective of robust science the new Minister is to carry on regardless?
The Hen Harrier [In]Action Plan and the associated failures to uphold the law in regard to illegal raptor persecution could be offered as another failure? Its last thread of credibility was surely lost when the RSPB withdrew support for it? Land management issues relating to the uplands where sporting interests receive public funds and where management is reported to exacerbate flooding, water quality etc. is surely something which needs closer scrutiny?
We now have a situation where Natural England have granted a licence for a shooting estate to cull (up to 10) buzzards. It is unlikely to come as any surprise to regular readers to be made aware of an epetition on the Parliament UK website calling for the suspension of that licence? Background information on the matter can be found here along with some 175 comments! Some readers will recall that back in 2012 a ‘trial’ was proposed, a subsequent public outcry saw a u-turn.
Patrick Barkham expresses a view on The Guardian’s website (444 comments) “With business interests being prioritised over wild birds, a deadly precedent has been set. The natural world is under assault and needs all our help”. Sadly I don’t think business interest is restricted to avifauna but anything environmental which has the potential to impact upon the bottom line of their balance sheets? However, we remain agnostics ….
Natural England is a Public Body and as such accountable to its public paymasters, but they have refused to release information so have failed the transparency test? This sounds oh so familiar, it is a repeat of the badger cull saga. It gives the public no faith in them as an agency of government, but then are government using them as a shield for the Ministers?