In the words of the song…

By Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs  via Wikimedia Commons
By Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs via Wikimedia Commons

…I can see clearly now the rain has gone!

I can see all obstacles in my way…


We wish Owen Paterson clear vision for the months ahead.

1. Climate change is real

2. Fixing bovine tb cannot be done by a cull of badgers alone

3.  Culling badgers is quite likely to increase the incidence of bovine tb

4.  Eric Pickles would make a more reliable sandbag than colleague

5. David Cameron makes a habit of undermining his SoS for Environment – 100% record to be exact

6. When it comes to getting things done, having some experts in EA and NE is quite handy

7. In a crisis, Ian Liddell-Grainger is less useful even than Eric Pickles or David Cameron

8. The ministerial team in Defra is pretty weak


Mr Paterson must be wondering ‘How can I get something useful done, of which I can be proud, before May 2015 or whenever I get moved out of Defra?’.

He may even be realising that having alienated NGOs, the civil service and statutory agencies, and having such weak and unreliable colleagues, he has painted himself into a corner with a dead ash tree, a dead badger, extremes of weather and rising waters without any friends.


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8 Replies to “In the words of the song…”

  1. Two fears...

    El Cameron will appoint someone even less-well equipped....

    Trapped as he is, OP will be driven to promote the notion of badger skin coracles...

    Oh Mark, what have you done.

  2. I thought Paterson would go - but Picklesgate has made it far too embarrassing to sack him.

    Paterson did well on the Levels he didn't sign up to the politically cheap 'we'll dredge' rather talking about the range of measures to mitigate flood risk - this time he'd been listening.

    He does have the opportunity of making his mark (other than the immortality of the goalpost remark, which must surely go straight into the Oxford book of quotations): against all the odds Defra have got to a point where they are saying the right things about the FC forests - both on money and governance. But will they seal the deal ? I suspect there are Defra voices (no names but some of us know who ! ) who'll be saying 'leave it alone, its all quiet' - but it could blow up and will go on re-appearing every time the Government's U turns are listed - it needs putting to bed, and Paterson could achieve immortality by putting his name to the future of our national forests.

  3. Mark – you say:-
    'Fixing bovine tb cannot be done by a cull of badgers alone' – well it was in 1975 !
    'Culling badgers is quite likely to increase the incidence of bovine tb' – well it didn't in 1975 !
    That makes you wrong Mark on both counts – perhaps you'll be more precise next time you refer to this subject!
    People might believe you! Oh ! - there's over 40 here now !!

    1. If it was 'fixed' by the 1975 cull then might one enquire what caused its return?

      Something caused an increase in it, and given your 'cull fixed it' statement what will be offered up as a scape goat .... biosecurity, cattle husbandry?

  4. Things are bound to start improving soon. We are approaching a general election are we not? The public fall for the same old statements time after time.

  5. Well, I don't know about you dear, but much as I'd like to see Roddy's forests and all those ancient trees (lovely aren't they and all that history and wildlife that's so scarce - did you know that almost 4/5 of Europe's ancient trees are in the UK - and all those friths (and other funny wooded names ppl have) and other little patches of woodland, goin back 400 years an much more. Those Wood Trust folk say they are the richest habitat we have, although Norma's stepson - cheeky blighter he is says that "kilo per kilo" the FT (or the FHT was it, I don't read the papers much - all too depressin), well they claim that freshwater habitats are the richest. So I says to him, "Don't believe all that read (or don't read), dear. It's all just those statistics. And I even hear there's something gone wrong with the P-values (probably a run in the FT), now. So don't get me started on Mr Fisher and Mr Pearson, really!!"

    I'm sorry dear, what was that? Oh yes. Well I was thinkin that more than just all these ancient woods an trees, which really need to be much better protected (I'm just so ashamed when I look at the state of the Copse near me. Sylvie (You remember Sylvie, dear), her grandad had to sell it off after the war (There were frogs and toads and those big newts there's so much fuss about in the ponds there too. And of course in those days, when the whole country was so rich in wildlife and we didn't appreciate it like we should have maybe, Mr Cannbear used to put primroses in my hair! Fancy! Better than frogs any way!). And so the Copse went to the Council and part of it was cleared and built on (Such a shame, dear). And then the Council was going to get the builders sectioned and use the money to look after the bit that remained. Not that it had any ponds left mind. But they didn't o course. It's what they call one of them Lowly Wildlife Sites now. And I don't go there no more. Still, it's always nice to see a primrose though. Makes me smile, dear.

    So I was thinking that if this Mr Petterson, once he's got his vision back (an who knows what he's been a thinking whilst lyin there with his retinue (are those the people at Deathray, dear?), all detached and floatin around, and waitin for all his colleagues and all these scientists (Never saw such a torrent of hydrologists, dear), what he could do to - How did young Roddy put it, "make his mark"? Well what he could to, with this flood of dam esperts (I think that''s how Mr Petterspon put it) breathing down his neck, is do more than look at just the forests (I'm sorry Roddy dear, but that's just what I think). I think there needs to be a much better plan for our countryside and wildlife. Something needs to be done to look after all our Lowly WIldlife Sites before all the local council budget damages them more.

    That's the message in that Makin Space for Nature review produced by this panel of experts (No, not the dam flood experts, dear. These ones don't seem to have done any breathing down Mr Petterson's nek). That beknighted Jon Lawton (Not the one that used to one of those Lucifer's Friends) in that reprot - which didn't go on half as long as me, dear, he said that all these LWSs needed to be looked after as well as all those Triple Sighs and EPAs and Lord knows what other initial. And the Government said they welcomed his report (He was really clever that Surgeon Lawton, He summarised all the information and considered views of these august folk that have all been too silent since, and he said, in relation to all those acronyms that seem vital to modern conservationists (So much for you, Mr Leopold), what he said was they needed to be MORE, BIGGER, BETTER & JOINED. His panel got it in the wrong order, Norma's stepson says, but the government - it was the other lot at the time - lapped it up. And even this 'greenest' government said they go along with it. But what happened? They've ignored all those LOwly Wildlife Sites and don't make the local councils do what the laws and policies say they should (Look at that Sanktry case in Derby dear, that's not the worst of it by a very long chalk).

    And now they've set up these Nature Internment Areas so that if we all sit on our hands or only talk about Forests (I'm sorry Roddy, dear) then soon there will be hardl any wildlife left [Did you see that Bird Track Organisations figures on Skylarks, dear? Heartbreaking), what with these climate impacts and over-late controls on alien species (although they tell me i shouldn't say that, down at the Bingo) - I bet all these Killer Shrimps and Crayfishes and Giant Swampy Hyacinths just loved all the flooding.

    So what I'd want Mr Petterson to do, with some other, other experts is look at how that new-fangled Ecolisystem Service Appraoch might be applied in a strategic way - because a lot of it is all about what those local authorities are meant to do - even if my local Councillor says he's never hears of a "dibioiversity duty" - IS it another tax? We'll have to see how we can avoid that then". Still, I'm sure his mother loved him.

    Now, I don't mean to get above meself, but if this ESA (Hark, at me now!) which really looks at the best way of ensurin you make the best use of resources in the long run (What they've callin 'sustainable', now dear) were applied an took in all the lowly wildlife sites so that there value was properly recognised, and the land was managed (with the help of that Environment Aggro money, and maybe be even schemes backed by those Insewerance Companies) to reduce the flood risk, that might be a real way for Mr Petterson to make his mark

    And I know you're only going to say I'm a silly woman, wanting my skylarks and more primroses in the world ((Still got that first one pressed in a book. You can see where it stained the pages) but remember all those woods and meadows you or your grandparents, played or loved in, there was floodin but not all this damage and misery that could have been avoided. On and my old copse? They had to evacuate people by boat in 1957, and despite or maybe because of all the concrete they put round the rivers, it flooded again this year. No newts now but I don't think that's good news

    So Mr Petteson or whoever has the honour of the succedin you. Don't worry about makin your mark, worry about doing what's right for the country and the countryside. Get some advice and make a difference for the future - and the skylarks (Well they won't love you for it, how could they) but you'll make one old woman happier than she's a right to be

    I'm sorry to run on so, Mr Ravery, but I haven't forgotten about you. Will your book be in BIG PRINT, dere?

    1. Very good! Just gorround to reading it

      But what's 'Maureen' doing pressing skylarks into a book? We should be told!



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