November was a dismal month for nature in our country – just dismal. This week the Westminster government issued figures showing that farmland birds were at an all time low but didn’t bother to comment on what they might do about it. The Chancellor had a swipe at the environment and announced a review of the implementation of EU Directives in England with a clear view to watering down their already insufficient effect – and all in the name of growth. The President of the NFU felt emboldened to show his Union’s true colours and say that government should shift its attention from biodiversity to production (and the new CLA President had to attempt to demonstrate his manhood on Farming Today by name-calling newts, bats and dormice). Defra can’t get its act together to designate areas for wildlife in our seas and peregrines are illegally killed on grouse moors. Dismal, dismal dismal.
There is a meanness and selfishness abroad which is distasteful. Why ‘we’ lash out at nature I really don’t know. But I do know it bodes ill for the non-voting, non-spending, not-heard wildlife around us. Governments have not always been efficient in doing things to better the lot of our wildlife but, on the whole, governments have been well-meaning if slow and sometimes inept. This government has shed, probably deliberately, any attempt to look well-meaning to wildlife.
Defra ministers are nice people (mostly) who have been left in a railway carriage parked in a siding while the train heads off to a destination called ‘callous disregard for nature’ driven by Driver Osborne and stoked by Pickles and Maude. The quiet carriage is occupied by the Liberal Democrats and David Cameron who are just going along for the ride. I don’t remember this journey being in the route-planner of the environment sections of either the Conservative Manifesto (which was actually quite good) nor the Liberal Manifesto (which wasn’t bad either). I didn’t vote for this lot anyway, but even if I had, I wasn’t offered this in the brochure for the excursion.
November was the cruellest month for wildlife in England for many years. Can’t you hear the cries? The Government offers us a wasteland of concrete and silence.
But are we down-hearted? Yes, I am a bit – I can’t help it. I don’t like feeling powerless when nature is calling out in pain. But this blog is called Standing up for Nature and that’s what we should all do – if we care. Come back on Monday to hear about one small way that I intend to fight back – and maybe you can help me.