Ancient history – in the old days, can you remember them?, one of NE’s predecessor organisations, English Nature, was active in protecting blanket bogs from destruction. Andy Clements, EN’s Director of Protected Areas once said: ‘Dumping and construction of tracks in this manner, without English Nature’s consent, has caused significant damage to this important site. We will try to maintain positive partnerships with owners and occupiers, but we will prosecute when necessary.‘.
How the Telegraph saw things – apparently the whole of upland Britain would be covered in scrub, lack any birds and be populated by unemployed gamekeepers if Natural England’s querying of the frequency of burning of blanket bog had been pursued to a successful conclusion. This would have led to the collapse of the upland economy and life as we know it. It seems that burning has been going on for a long time and makes money for some people and therefore should continue – time to repeal laws against slavery, drugs and pimping then?
As stated earlier this week on this blog, this case is about two main issues, it seems to me, at the moment. First, is the frequency of burning, particularly of blanket bog, consistent with environmental legislation covering SSSIs, SPAs and SACs? I can see that this might be difficult to decide and requires studies and evidence. A test case to clear the air would most probably be valuable. Maybe that was NE’s idea at the start.
Second, to what level was there any Ministerial intervention in this case? And if there was any, to what extent might that be seen as political interference in a quasi-judicial process? I don’t know the answer to these questions but am very interested to find out. As you may have guessed, this is an issue on which this blog is going to pay a great deal of attention and actively pursue the truth. Watch this space.