If you track back to 2 April on this blog you will find that I made Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulation requests to Defra and Natural England.
Defra failed to respond to those requests until sending me a letter dated 4 May saying that they needed another 20 working days to respond. It is now 19 June and I have still not heard from Defra. This is outrageous behaviour by a government department.
The Walshaw Moor affair involved a dramatic, and in my experience unprecedented, volte face by Natural England in taking a legal case against an upland land manager over alleged offences concerning the building of ‘tracks, paths, car parks, grips, ponds, butts and other associated infrastructure for which the Walshaw Moor Estate did not obtain Natural England’s consent’ according to Natural England.
We already know from Natural England that a variety of emails and conversations took place between Natural England and certain senior Defra civil servants in the run up to Natural England’s change of approach. What we still await is clarification, openness and transparency from Defra on what other discussions there were and whether they involved their grouse-moor owning Minister Richard Benyon, and what discussions took place between Defra and other stakeholders in this case – for example the Countryside Alliance, Moorland Association and others.
Defra appears to think it acceptable to shut up shop and not respond to my requests. I have emailed Defra to remind them that they are in breach of the legislation relating to such requests.
Defra is behaving as though it has something to hide – I wonder what it is. I intend to find out. This affair stinks.