Game Fair 1


This year the Game Fair is in the grounds of Blenheim Palace.

The Game Fair could keep a blogger going for  full year, but let me tell you about some sensible people I met today.

Today, Saturday, is ‘Conservation’ Saturday apparently.  I noticed that there was a talk about rivers but it was as much luck as judgement that I happened to be passing the main lecture theatre at the right time to hear most of it. It was easy to get a seat – apparently conservation isn’t a hugely popular topic at the Game Fair.

I listened to the excellent Paul Knight of the Salmon and Trout Association and Martin Salter (ex Labour MP) talking perfect sense about the state of our rivers.

Did you know that 85% of the world’s chalk streams are in England? I didn’t.  The rest –  if you are curious to know, as I was – are mostly and unsurprisingly in Belgium and France (but there are some chalk stream lookalikes in Chile too).  They should, surely, all be protected – but they aren’t.

One of  the threats to them is phosphate pollution from watercress beds – who’d have thought it? The S&TA have done research, we heard, the few of us who were listening, that shows that the P-levels in rivers  are sometimes 10 times what they should be because of this pollution.

The Chalk Stream Charter seems pretty good and successive governments and their agencies seem to have done a particularly poor job here.  Well may it be said that our stewardship of this global resource has been truly ‘lamentable’.

Martin Salter may have been the only person to have quoted Aneurin Bevan at the Game Fair today and he may well have been the only person to call for ‘environmental leadership rather than focus-group politics’ – is that a ‘left and a right’, or maybe a  ‘left and a left’?

I was struck by the fact that it was a bunch of fishermen pointing out that you wouldn’t need to dredge the rivers if they weren’t clogged up with soil washed off fields – so why don’t we farm more sustainably?

I was reminded of this question later in the day when I was told that Owen Paterson (remember him?) had asked EA to assess the need for dredging of all English rivers. That’ll cost a bit.

The Game Fair had been robbed of an appearance by OPatz by the reshuffle and the new SoS had had to stay in London (possibly for a Cabinet meeting on Ukraine). I’d wondered why the CLA had been reduced to issuing a photo of Nigel Farage drinking a pint yesterday but that must be why.

Maybe the PM himself will visit tomorrow – it’s close to his constituency home after all.

I might have a go at shooting some clays tomorrow. I might.

But, for this evening, I am regretting that nature conservationists don’t work more closely with fishermen.  There is a lot of common ground (particularly if they lay off otters and cormorants a bit).

E-petition very close to 8300 – I wonder how many fisherpeople signed?

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17 Replies to “Game Fair 1”

  1. I always remember, as a young boy, seeing the destruction caused by dredging to my local river; dozens of Eels dead and dying trying to fight their way out of the mud that was dumped on the riverbank, not to mention the devastation to the plantlife and critters on the riverbed.
    I know you can't always make this point to people who's lives are turned upside down by flooding but it's refreshing to see discussions around preventing some of the root causes of flooding and not just taking more and more corrective action.

  2. "asked EA to assess the need for dredging of all English rivers"

    The only ones that really need attention are the high level carriers in artificial basins - perfectly feasible.

    As for soil wash and erosion - a big issue. The Soils Directive, which could have had some clout, was effectively kicked into the long grass - either by a vegetarian or a slavish Agenda 21 wonk, can't recall which. No-one is innocent.

  3. OP not yet disappeared. He can now show his true colours by giving the key lecture at Nigel Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation, the global warming denying "charity" pressure group. See Damian Charrington's article in today's Guardian.

    1. Richard are you aware that the charity commission has told the GWPF had to split in two forming different arms, one an educational/charity and the other political/pressure group

    2. Paterson on parasitism: "The European Commission website reveals that a staggering 150 million euros (£119  million) was paid to the top nine green NGOs from 2007-13".

      That's with our money

      1. For a man previously charged with protecting the environment his attitude in the Telegraph leaves a lot to be desired. No comment about the presumably also 'staggering' amount of money given by the taxpayers to private landowners as well. Odd comment about having to fight the 'Green Blob'; a nice example of how or how not to alienate and influence those you have to talk to. An even odder comment about how the badger cull has already reduced BtB in the cull areas with little evidence and nothing about why it is has also gone down in the non cull areas.

        I used to wonder whether he was being inappropriately maligned by some commentators but after this article I can understand where they were coming from.

      2. How much was paid in farming subsidies between 2007-13? Does anybody know?

        I'd take issue with Paterson's boast that he "stood up" to the green lobby, which would imply he'd used some sort of reasoned arguments backed by evidence to engage with them in debate. He and his ministers appeared to just dismiss any points they didn't agree with out of hand with a sort of cack handed arrogance combined with a shocking disregard for science and evidence. Judging by this all the "freedom of the backbenches" will do is make him look even more ridiculous and prove that as SoS he was too toxic even for this govt.

        Whatever next, offsetting ancient woodland?

  4. I didn't know that about chalk streams either. It make all the more shocking that for years Thames Water have been polluting one of the nicest chalk streams north of London:
    I don't know why stuff like this does not get more publicity: perhaps it's that Thames Water pour so much raw sewage into the Thames. But unlike the latter problem, they would only have to spend pennies to stop their desecration of the Chess.

  5. Martin Salter and the Angling Trust may talk some sense about dredging, but when they call for Beavers to be eradicated, it's no wonder that people in conservation struggle to find common ground with them. I wrote about this a while back

    1. Most fishing organisations talk a great deal of sense about river conservation and management, except when it comes to Beavers, Otters, Herons, Ospreys and especially Cormorants.

    2. Martin Salter is no friend of cormorants and otters either:

  6. "phosphate pollution from watercress beds – who’d have thought it?"

    Is it anyone who thought about it? Who needs watercress farms anyway? In 3 pots with a total surface area of less than 0.25 metres square I am producing more than enough watercress outside the kitchen window to satisfy Mrs C's watercress fetish.

    Apart from that - particulate pollution (carrying a high P burden) from open-air pigs is a factor. All that coffee-coloured silty field run-off that disappears down the storm drains must go somewhere. Wylye, Bourne, Test, take your pick anywhere in South Wiltshire.

    1. I think I need to know more about your water cress cultivation Filbert. It sounds like something I might want to do.

      1. It's v simple. I use large heavy-duty plastic pots that have raised drainage spigots in the base. Drill them out. Fill pot to within 3" of top with compost & sow watercress seed thinly on surface - rake in with a fork. Water lightly and cover with a plastic cloche dome (I also use these to warm them up in early spring. Once the watercress is established, increase watering regime - gently flood the pot every couple of days. Feed occasionally with any liquid feed - you can get organic ones that smell suspiciously like Marmite. My pots last a couple of seasons before I repeat the process. They are at the foot of a south-facing wall of the house.

  7. you should look at the rivers trust movement, the majority of rivers have a trust now and they are working hard on farm diffuse pollution, invasive species and fencing of watercourses. They work with fisherman, in fact they are mostly run by fisherman and ones like the Wye Usk Foundation, Severn Rivers trust, Westcountry rivers trust etc. are making a real difference to the quality of there catchments.


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