This is a copy of my earlier blog post but now including the Peak District National Park’s rapid and helpful response to points 1 and 2. They tell me that they are checking on point 3 now.
Dear Peak District National Park
This is a request under the Freedom of Information regulations, but in any case you should be happy to answer it.
Please answer the following:
- Did the PDNP contact The Times newspaper by email, letter or telephone concerning Simon Barnes’s articles about raptor persecution in the Peak District? I ask, because it has been suggested to me that you might have done. A rapid straight ‘no’ would suffice if that is the answer.
- If the answer to question 1 is ‘yes’, please send me details of what you wrote or said and any replies that you received.
- Are you aware (perhaps through being copied in) of any other representations made by others on this subject? I’m not sure this falls under FoI – you had better check – but I’d still like to know the answer please.
I am grateful to the PDNP for a copy of the following letter which was sent by them to The Times but not published:
Simon Barnes is right to shine a light on the sad and unacceptable level of persecution of birds of prey on some Peak District grouse moors.
However, he misses important facts and is blaming the wrong people.
Simon Barnes appears to associate the Authority with the illegal actions taking place. Nothing is further from the truth. We wholly condemn illegal persecution of wildlife. Our policies and staff on the ground focus only on supporting land managers who protect wildlife. If we discover any illegal activity we report it to the police.
Moreover, Simon Barnes fails to explain that bird of prey populations have recovered well across much of the national park in recent decades. There is, for example, a good breeding record of goshawk across much of the national park and peregrines have recolonised successfully important historical sites such as The Roaches.
There is clear evidence of a problem with persecution of hen harrier, goshawk and peregrine associated with some grouse moors. That is where the problem lies. The individuals who own and manage those moors should be accountable and the target of any censure, not the hard working staff of the National Park who labour tirelessly for the conservation of this landscape and its wildlife with good effect.
Cllr Tony Favell MBE
Chairman of the Peak District National Park Authority