Responding to PDNP consultation – some hints

The Peak District National Park wants to know what you think – so you should tell them.

This is the consultation document and this is the 52-question questionnaire.  Here’s a tip: if you are planning on responding then it’s a good idea to open these two things in two separate tabs so that you can move from one to another as the questionnaire expects you to know what the Management Plan consultation document says!

Up front (on p6) the consultation recognises and states:

From the 1995 Environment Act, the purposes of designation are to:
conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage; and
•promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the
special qualities of the area by the public.
If there is a conflict between these two purposes, the Act states that
conservation takes priority. In carrying out these purposes, the National
Park Authority must also seek to foster the economic and social well-being
of the local communities within the National Park.
The consultation then gives little space, and little opportunity, to commenting on those areas, particularly the areas that I have highlighted in red above.
The consultation fails to recognise that the PDNP is currently failing badly in conserving and enhancing the natural beauty and wildlife of the area, particularly the Dark Peak, because of wildlife crime and unsustainable management practices.
In answering this long questionnaire you should not, in my opinion, always accept the premise of the question but should helpfully address the issues that you feel need to be addressed.  To that end, I have been through the questionnaire several times to save you the time – when you start with Q1 you don’t know how many questions there are or what might come up in what form before you get to the end – I hope I’ve saved you some time.
Although I think the PDNP has not asked all the right questions, and has sometimes asked them in a confusing and unclear way, they are demonstrating a real potential interest in your views. So please give them your views. I attach what I wrote in case your views are anywhere similar to my views.  Rest assured that others with opposing views will be filling in these questions (or at least some of them) at this very moment. This weekend would be a good time to for you to make your views known because there is tennis on the TV and that’s a bit dull really.  But you do have until the end of July to respond – but why wait? Why put it off?  It’ll take you 20mins to make a decent response if you get yourself organised. Why not set aside some time this weekend?
Here are my answers to various questions:

Question 10

This is confusing because it isn’t clear whether you are asking what I’d like to experience or what I do experience.

I would like to experience  ‘Internationally important and locally distinctive habitats and species’ very much, but the PDNP is failing to deliver these aspects – which are central to the role of a NP under the Act – in any meaningful way. The PDNP is a wildlife-crime hotspot where birds of prey are largely absent because of the illegal actions of land owners within the NP.   This is unacceptable.

This is an area where the NP is failing badly and this consultation does not recognise that fact nor give adequate opportunity for people easily to make those views known.

 

 

Question 13

You say:

 

From the 1995 Environment Act, the purposes of designation are to:

  • conserve and  enhance  the  natural  beauty,  wildlife  and  cultural

heritage; and

  • promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the

special qualities of the area by the public.

 

The physical barrier to me enjoying the PDNP is that there is too much game shooting in the area and too few birds of prey.  A lack of wildlife is a barrier to enjoyment. Your consultation does not adequately address this issue nor give proper opportunity for it to be highlighted by respondents.

 

A mental barrier is that I am likely, often, to drive past the PDNP and go elsewhere for my mental realaxation and physical exercise because I know that wildlife is killed here routinely. Why would I want to support a rural economy that tolerates wildlife crime in its midst? The PDNP has been mealy mouthed for many years on this issue and to gain greater support for the area it needs to make a concerted stand.

 

Question 16

Ban killing wildlife for fun from the PDNP – which is not in your direct power, but you are not taking a stand on this issue.

 

Question 18

You say:

 

From the 1995 Environment Act, the purposes of designation are to:

  • conserve and  enhance  the  natural  beauty,  wildlife  and  cultural

heritage; and

  • promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the

special qualities of the area by the public.

 

This is less about money and more about what sort of NP we all want -we taxpayers who are paying for it.

 

The PDNP needs to become a place that is rich in wildlife and move away from being a notorious wildlife crime scene.  It’s not all about money you know?!

 

Some of this i, I recognise, beyond the immediate and actual power of the PDNP – but you don’t appear to care about it at all. This consultation does not recognise it.

 

Question 21

You say:

 

From the 1995 Environment Act, the purposes of designation are to:

  • conserve and  enhance  the  natural  beauty,  wildlife  and  cultural

heritage; and

  • promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the

special qualities of the area by the public.

 

This consultation does not address these issues – you could have started here.

 

The PDNP needs to become a grouse-shooting-free zone and would then form an exemplar of how wildlife would recover in the absence of damaging management.

 

In recent years the PDNP has seen:

 

  • injuries to visitors from snares
  • a masked armed man with a decoy bird resembling a Hen Harrier crouching in the heather
  • illegal persecution of Peregine Falcons
  • illegal persecution of a migrating Osprey
  • illegal persecution of nesting Goshawks
  • the failure of a Raptor Forum to address these issues because of intransigence by landowners
  • a masked armed man apparently shooting a snared badger
  • damage to protected habitat through unconsented construction of a moorland road
  • damage to moorland habitat through use of ATVs
  • damage to protected habitat through moorland burning which is non-compliant with codes of best practice (and quite possibly with the law)

 

That’s a long list of environmental damage that conflicts with your primary aim. You fail to address those problems in this consultation and make it difficult for them to emerge naturally from your consultation questions.

 

Question 26

You say:

 

From the 1995 Environment Act, the purposes of designation are to:

  • conserve and  enhance  the  natural  beauty,  wildlife  and  cultural

heritage; and

  • promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the

special qualities of the area by the public.

 

My opportunity to enjoy the PDNP and the Park’s ability to conserve and enhance its natural beauty and wildlife are prejudiced by the actions of shooting interests’

 

The PDNP needs to become a grouse-shooting-free zone and would then form an exemplar of how wildlife would recover in the absence of damaging management.

 

In recent years the PDNP has seen:

 

  • injuries to visitors from snares
  • a masked armed man with a decoy bird resembling a Hen Harrier crouching in the heather
  • illegal persecution of Peregine Falcons
  • illegal persecution of a migrating Osprey
  • illegal persecution of nesting Goshawks
  • the failure of a Raptor Forum to address these issues because of intransigence by landowners
  • a masked armed man apparently shooting a snared badger
  • damage to protected habitat through unconsented construction of a moorland road
  • damage to moorland habitat through use of ATVs
  • damage to protected habitat through moorland burning which is non-compliant with codes of best practice (and quite possibly with the law)

 

That’s a long list of environmental damage that conflicts with your primary aim. You fail to address those problems in this consultation and make it difficult for them to emerge naturally from your consultation questions.

 

Question 31

Grouse shooting requires burning and has been the driving force for damaging new tracks and increased vehicle use in sensitive peatland habitats.

 

Stopping intensive grouse shooting would reduce burning (protecting peat soils and allowing greater tree growth in some areas) and remove the driving force behind damage to sensitive carbon-rich habitats.

 

The NT vision for the High Peak is a good model to follow –  the PDNP should be promoting this thinking widely and adopt it as their own vision for the Dark Peak.

 

Question 36

This should also include a more honest assessment of the failings of the PDNP – in your primary remit to conserve  and  enhance  the  natural  beauty,  wildlife  and  cultural  heritage.

 

‘an awareness and understanding of the benefits of the Peak District National Park’ includes recognising the problems of wildlife crime and the lack of protected raptors in the PDNP due to illegal activity by a few vested interests at the expense of the enjoyment of the many.

 

Question  41

Your suggested options are not really much in your gift.

 

And the elephant stomping around your room is ‘which land management do we want in the PDNP?’. You may have picked up from my comments by now that I would like to see an end to intensive grouse moor management in the PDNP.

 

Your consultation avoids this issue and appears happy with the status quo – I believe this is a big mistake and represents a failure to address properly your major responsibility to ‘to conserve  and  enhance  the  natural  beauty,  wildlife  and  cultural  heritage’.

 

Question 46

That elephant is still stomping around your room.  Which land management do we want in the PDNP?. You may have picked up from my comments by now that I would like to see an end to intensive grouse moor management in the PDNP.

 

Your consultation appears happy with the status quo – I believe this is a big mistake and represents a failure to address properly your major responsibility to ‘to conserve  and  enhance  the  natural  beauty,  wildlife  and  cultural  heritage’.

 

The PDNP needs to engineer a landscape scale loss of intensive grouse shooting so that the PDNP can become an exemplar of a more natural and wildlife-rich approach to management.  Do not let vested interests which do not share your remit ‘to conserve  and  enhance  the  natural  beauty,  wildlife  and  cultural  heritage’. to dominate so much of the Dark Peak.

 

Question 51

I’d like to see sustainable wildlife communities living alongside sustainable human communities please

 

Question 52

All of it – see my book Inglorious: conflict in the uplands – but particularly the second half of Chapter 6 which is specifically about the PDNP and a different future.

 

 

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5 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    Great stuff! When I see photos of the empty moors in England and Scotland on Glorious Britain calendars and the like, or in photographic competitions it infuriates me that we put up with such desolation - which appears to be getting worse on land owner by shooters.

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  2. Heather Procter says:

    I have just read the consultation document and filled in the questionnaire. It does come across to me that the document is asking support for more sustainable management of the blanket bog, moorland and heathland habitats which would result in fewer fires, less water runoff and pollution and obviously a much smaller grouse population. I do understand why the questionnaire has to be neutral otherwise there would be strong objections from the shooting and farming groups.
    In the last question there is the opportunity to put your own views and I have said I wish to see driven grouse shooting halted immediately and also the end to shooting of all red and amber listed birds and any BAP priority species in the PDNP. At the moment it is legal in the Uk to shoot woodcock, snipe, grey partridge, golden plover and other species which I believe most conservationists do not support? I have also requested strong enforcement action to any unlawful activities.
    I have summed up that I am supportive of their wish to manage the blanket bog, moorland and heathland in a more sustainable way, than it is being managed at the moment.

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  3. Paul Fisher says:

    I filled this in last week. I imagine that they will take my views and file them under B1N, or put them under 'spoilt papers'. Even so, if many others do the same, they will at least get the message that the shooters have opposition and that we are watching.

    Please take the time to air your views, you won't get another chance for five years. If then!

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  4. Tom Willis says:

    Done. Thanks for providing suggestions Mark.

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