Posts Tagged ‘The Ecologist’

The BBC, badgers & tall stories?

March 2, 2016

Well, first of all the NFU so no real surprise there, then Defra whose failure to secure robust science on the issue and similar blinkered approach and stance on the [In]action in the uplands to safeguard raptors and most noticably the Hen Harrier but now it’s the turn of the BBC?

As license fee payers it would seem entirely reasonable to expect a balanced view of any topic aired?  Where there is robust science then it might be expected that this be put forward as part of any discussion?

The Ecologist’s headline Tall stories: BBC’s anti-science support for badger culling asks some awkward questions and these are then picked up by the Badger Trust who encourage members of the public to watch the first programme of the series Land of Hope and GloryLand of Hope and Glory to be broadcast this Friday (4 March) on BBC 2 at 9pm.


Poor brock: a scapegoat for poor bio-security or a villan?

The Badger Trust  plan to write an open letter to the Director General of the BBC, Lord Hall, on Monday after the programme has been broadcast.  They also invite their members, supporters and the public to join them in highlighting their concerns through social media, so if you  share concerns then use the hashtag #bbcbias to deliver alternatives to the approach taken by the BBC.  They will be sending out a list of tweets that can be used throughout the day.

It is a shame, if the early indications of bias by the BBC are true, because such acts of demonstrable and one sided bias simply serve to indicate that the Corporation are out of touch and knowledgeable viewers then see the ‘brand’ as unreliable?  If it favours a particular group with bovine TB then where else has it failed in its reporting or investigations?  A topical ‘discussion’ at the moment given the recent revelations documented in Dame Janet’s investigation?  Equally of concern is that it does nothing to help the farmers case when people in possession of an understanding of the complexities and the science but who also have a love of badgers and of Somerset Brie?  What wins?

So let’s all of us watch on Friday evening, Land of hope and glory?  We can then decide for ourselves if the BBC offers balance or bias?  We can then consider what next we might each do or not?

Remember that  Hope was a Hen Harrier and ‘Inglorious’ an excellent expose, and a balanced one, of the ‘Conflicts in the uplands’ brought about by the management regimes designed to create habitat for Red Grouse. This management bias is to the detriment of some other wildlife and water management, in terms of quality for drinking and flood alleviation.




Resources down the drain(s)?

January 14, 2016

A recent article Government planning thousands of new homes in flood plains in The Ecologist assessed a ‘plan’ that seeks to build some 9000 new homes in floodplains ….

Mary Dhonau OBE, a flood campaigner, told Greenpeace: “No developer in their right mind would build a house in the middle of the river so why build it where we know the river will be when the floods come? It’s setting people up for misery. In the light of the appalling floods we’ve seen in Cumbria, coupled with the threat that climate change brings – it has never been more essential that new homes are not built where there is a risk of flooding.”

But the government are to fast track developments in flood zones.  Read the full article to learn how Greenpeace established the areas and the level of risk.  Readers may recall that we asked that you consider responding to the government consultation on proposed changes to the FoI legislation.  Had not Greenpeace been able to obtain important information, funded through the public purse in the first instance, then use this to establish risk then people unaware of an areas ‘potential’ would be left with a mess to sort out?  This is a prime example of why it is crucial that the FoI legislation is strengthened not weakened?

Let’s hope that the issue of floods and land use remain high on the medias agenda and that of conservation because it is evident that much public money will be spent, but …. will it deliver value for money?  Will it be predicated on robust science, or will those with vested interest endeavour to manipulate and manage the discussions to steer the outcomes favourable to their agendas?

See an interesting commentary on a recent parliamentary discussion via Standing up for nature likewise in a new nature blog.  Read the Hansard report on the debate.  Surely the debate is not simply food or floods, more it is about a holistic and strategic approach to land use?  Oh dear that’s probably too much for government to tackle in their short-term economic ‘outbursts’?

We have been relatively fortunate here in the Humberhead Levels, whilst we have experienced precipitation it has not been the ‘unprecedented’ scale much heralded in the media.  The image below shows an area in the Danvm Drainage Commissioner’s area, an area which saw a massively engineered solution to mining subsidence relatively recently ….


Fishlake January 2016

It looks like Avery’s petition will pass another milestone tonight, but more signatures are needed to see upland land management more sympathetic to wildlife.

Ban driven grouse shooting

Natural England appeal Information Commissioners decision …. & The Ecologists warning ….

May 13, 2015

We have just learnt that the Badger Trust (BT) will be in Court again on 14th (that’s tomorrow!) and 15th May 2015, where they are joint defendants with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

This case has been ongoing following their request to Natural England (NE) in May 2014 for information about the culls, which they refused to disclose.

The Badger Trust appealed to the ICO who found in favour of the BT, but …. NE appealed that decision. It has been very difficult to obtain a mutually acceptable date for the hearing but the BT have pursued it vigorously in the belief that it is what their supporters would expect of them. They will advise the outcome of the case when judgement has been given.

Natural England are a public body, the Information Commissioner has found in favour of open and transparent conduct yet they resist making their ‘science’ available for public scrutiny, why?

DEFRA vs ICO & Badger Trust  Case No.: GI/79/2014


Badger & mayweed

‘The Government believes that we need to throw open the doors of public bodies, to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account’

The Badger Trust report contra to the spin of the Coalition Agreement of 2010.

That was then, and since then there has been a wind of change, so what of now?  What will the court decide given the new Government’s desire to reduce environmental protection as well as transparency in Public Bodies?

We must remember that Natural England are fighting for their future, as an entity and the future of the individual staff members in post.

The Badger Trust have acted swiftly and are to be congratulated for that.  Their members have had to raise the funds, but Natural England is a Public Body and will be funded by the tax paying public, many of who do not want the badger culls.   The ICO and the Badger Trust have managed to secure a date ahead of any gagging legislation being introduced to further prevent charities from lobbying or challenging policy.  Whatever happened to evidence based policy?  That would at least offer a semblance of credibility?  Accountability of Public Bodies is extrememly difficult to achieve at the best of times, it will be ‘interesting’ to observe the change of practice and procedure which may well follow review subsequent to the General Election?

In the Upper Tribunal Administrative Appeal Chamber DEFRA vs ICO & Badger Trust  Case No.: GI/79/2014

The Ecologist provided comment in February 2014 which is still material today?  Paterson departed, how will his replacement Ms Truss deal with the ongoing issue  and one which, like the ‘Hen Harrier’ persection looks likely to continue to escalate?

Another very good editorial by Oliver Tickell of the Ecologist “Green crap is coming – so let’s be prepared” warns conservationists of the catalogue that is likely to befall the countryside in the aftermath of the General Election.  It alerts readers to the implications of EVEL, and some undesirable aspects of it?  One might therefore ask again, is it not time for serious review and real reform?  That is to say not tinkiering and tweaking to suit political agendas of the puppeteers?




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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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