Yesterday evening I attended an environmental question time organised by the Sibthorp Trust, British Ecological Society and CIEEM, and chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby.
The panellists were Natalie Bennett (Green Party), William Cash (UKIP), Barry Gardiner MP (Labour), Lord (Rupert) de Mauley (Conservative Defra minister), Baroness Kate Parminter (Liberal Democrats, Environment Spokesperson) and Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP (SNP).
It was a very good evening and I was glad I travelled into London for it. It’s worth a few blogs over the next few days but someone (guess who?) asked the panel whether they would ban driven grouse shooting.
These were their answers, in no particular order, and in my words, summarising their words:
William Cash – no. The government should not interfere to attempt to change ‘rural values’. Instead, people should consider the number of eagles killed by windfarms.
Rupert de Mauley – no. Shooting has important economic benefits and can benefit other biodiversity. But we should stamp out illegal practices.
Eilidh Whiteford – no. Although shooting estates shouldn’t be exempt from business rates – they should pay their way.
Kate Parminter – no. But there is too much illegal persecution.
Barry Gardiner – no, not at the moment but we intend to review many aspects of field sports including snares etc. The persecution of birds of prey should be ended. I was present at Hen Harrier Day in the Peak District last year. We need to see the report on lead ammunition that should be out soon, as that will have implications for grouse shooting too.
Natalie Bennett – yes. Grouse shooting is an environmentally destructive industry.
Jonathan Dimbleby was then kind enough to ask me what I thought and I said something very like this:
‘Yes we should. The management of grouse moors increases water bills (through water pollution), increases home insurance costs (through increasing flood risk), increases greenhouse gas emissions (through soil erosion), increases damage to wildlife sites (through over-burning) and leads to more wildlife crime which involves the deaths of some very pretty birds of prey. It is an activity of tiny economic value to the economy and what value there is, is for the benefit of the few at a cost to the many. So, yes, we should ban it.’
And if you agree, you should send that message to politicians by signing this e-petition, as have over 21,000 others. And, on this showing, you should regard it as one reason to vote Green on 7 May.
More on this environmental question time a little later.
And, by the way, this looks like an interesting and similar event – which clashes with the BAWC conference so I won’t be there.