Defra is the government department responsible for nature conservation – it’s hard to remember that because it’s a long time since Defra did anything remotely important for nature. I’ll come back to that general issue at a later date but let’s just look at Hen Harriers since this coming weekend sees Hen Harrier rallies in England (6), Scotland (4) and Northern Ireland (2).
There should be c300 pairs of Hen Harrier nesting in the English uplands, mostly in National Parks and AoNBS (Hen Harriers, National Parks and AoNBs are Defra responsibilities) but this year there are 3 pairs.
Defra set up a group to look at Hen Harrier recovery and produced a plan that helps grouse moors cope with large numbers of Hen Harriers rather than one that helps Hen Harriers cope with life in the English hills. This year no Hen Harriers nested on grouse moors in England. The plan is in tatters.
Defra responded to our e-petition asking for a ban on driven grouse shooting several months ago with an arrogant, misleading and hopeless response – that e-petition now has more than 72,500 signatures and might be debated in the Westminster parliament (if it reaches 100,000 signatures by 20 September).
Defra has done nothing to help the Hen Harrier and looks like it is in the pocket of the criminal elements of the grouse shooting industry (it’s just a hobby really). Theresa May was certainly not thinking of grouse shooting when she said her government would look out for the people and not the powerful vested interests – she wasn’t thinking about grouse moors but she might have been, and Andrea Leadsom and Therese Coffey must. We need to see Defra raise its game – people’s patience is coming to an end.