This interview with the Chief Executive of Natural England is interesting in a way. It illustrates the tensions of pleasing one’s current political masters and living up to the mission that NE has had handed down by Parliament. Which direction to face?
What would you have liked to hear him say?
Here are some questions I’d be interested in NE answering (and they can please regard this as an FoI/EIR request)?
- How many times, and on what dates, have senior NE staff met Richard Bannister since the collapse of the Walshaw Moor Estate court case?
- How many visits have NE staff made to Walshaw Moor since the collapse of the court case in order to inspect the site and assess whether damage is being restored or whether further damage has occurred?
- Is it true that the damage caused to the South Pennines Moors SAC at Walshaw Moor by drainage, car parks, tracks, grouse butts and ponds will not be restored? If so, why not?
- Can NE confirm that there are around 127 further consents which allow burning of blanket bogs in the English uplands? If so, what steps will NE take to ensure that blanket bogs are protected from damage from burning?
- If all burning of blanket bogs in the English uplands ceased tomorrow what impact would/should it have on future SSSI assessments of favourable condition?
- How would you describe the part that the Moorland Association, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the Countryside Alliance have played in discussions over burning of blanket bogs?
- Have Defra Ministers been informed of the implications of the review of the science concerning burning of blanket bogs on the SSSI condition statistics and the sustainability of current grouse moor management?
- When, if ever, was the last time that each of the Defra ministers went grouse-shooting?
- Do any of your ministers have a financial interest in grouse-shooting through ownership, investment or having relatives (either blood relatives or through marriage) with such interests?
- How much money was paid to the Walshaw Moor Estate by Natural England in 2013 and how much is expected to be paid in 2014.