At yesterday evening’s Environmental Question time, the unelected Etonian, Rupert de Mauley was smooth, very smooth.
Quite how he emerged relatively unscathed on this government’s dreadful environmental record is hard to figure. It was a mixture of partial admission of failure, partial avoidance of the question, partially making the most of a few potential successes and partially just appearing slightly out of one’s depth and therefore too soft a target to aim at (IMHO).
Lord de Mauley said some good things:
- if he could tackle three things they would be climate change, biodiversity loss and water quality issues (top marks!)
- he is against wildlife crime – but he mostly meant that done abroad to somebody else’s wildlife, it seemed
- he was sensible on bovine tb, to the extent that he said that a mixture of vaccination, better biosecurity and badger culling might be needed but abject in saying that the government had followed a ‘comprehensive strategy’ which took account of the science
- he said that GM crops could be safe, without elucidating how we might know
- he could name some species that had done well (Red Kite, Otter and Large Blue butterfly) and large groups of species that are in trouble (farmland birds, woodland birds and pollinators) – but the thing is, he had three of each!
- he mentioned carbon capture and storage
I could vote for what he said, but not when it is based on the current government’s record. His was a performance rich in charm, full of promise but based on failure. Nature Improvement Areas seemed to be the government’s major achievement – QED.
The most remarkable thing he said, and I am sure I heard this correctly, was that Natural England had told him that it was confident that they could halt biodiversity loss by 2020.