Wuthering Moors 49

Tues 7 July CopyI asked Defra for an update on the ‘progress’ with the complaint by the RSPB against the UK government to the EU over burning of blanket bogs (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and Inglorious for more details) on 6 July.

After the usual delay in replying I received what passes for an answer on Friday last week.

The answer was ‘we’re not telling you’ because ‘The information you requested is being withheld as it falls under the exception in regulation 12(5)(a) of the EIRs, which relates to the disclosure of information that would adversely affect international relations.‘ Blimey! The French are going to invade if the British taxpayer is told how awful Defra is at protecting our upland natural heritage? Well, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing under the circumstances.

Defra went on: ‘We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosure of information concerning discussions between the EU Commission and Defra about third party complaints as this could further public understanding of the cases being considered.

On the other hand, there is a strong public interest in withholding the information because its disclosure could undermine our position in discussions with international organisations, including the European Commission particularly as the Pilot Case is ongoing and subject to further comments and requests for submissions by the Commission.

Well, it seems a bit pathetic to me. The RSPB complained to the EU on this matter on 15 October 2012 – yes 2012!  We are paying for this farce! Why should Defra carry out its defence of its own actions in secret from the taxpayers who are paying for it?

For a fairly detailed, fairly accessible and fairly complete account of this mater then have a look at Inglorious pp149-57, 175-6 & 190-2.

More on this later.


3 Replies to “Wuthering Moors 49”

  1. Did they say the pilot letter itself was not available? My understanding is that the EU must have written a pilot letter to the UK as a result of the complaint by the RSPB. Essentially this will say, the RSPB says you have contravened the directive- so either get back to us proving that you haven’t or get back to us as soon as you have reversed your error. If the UK does not respond by correcting the error or by effectively saying the RSPB are mistaken, then they will be summoned to the EU court.
    I could understand if they had said that the info would not be released as it might prejudice a potential court case(which would be an admission that they were not planning to correct an error)… but I cant for the life of me see how it could affect international relations (unless it contains evidence of us spying against Luxemburg?)

  2. Quite encouraging in a way – confirming that even this Government is reluctant to be shown up in the EU international forum – and reinforcing the vital importance of the EU Directives.

  3. Methinks that new minister at Defra stands to gain or lose a heap of credibility very shortly!

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